juggling home and work can make women feel they are failing on all counts
Women are more likely than men to be perfectionists at home and at work, say US researchers.
A study of 288 adults, published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, found that a higher proportion of women felt inadequate because they did not meet the standards they had set themselves at home and work.
All the participants worked 20 hours a week or more and had family commitments. The statements they made included : ‘the time I spend with my families interferes with my work responsibilities’; and ‘when I get home from work I am usually too frazzled to participate in family activities’.
At work, 38% of women did not feel they met the high standards they set themselves, compared with 24% of men. When it came to home and family life, 30% of women felt they were failing to meet the standards they wanted to compared with 17% of men.
Study author Dr Jacqueline Mitchelson, assistant professor in psychology at Auburn University in Alabama, said she had not expected to find a difference between men and women.
‘None of the research I’ve seen which splits perfectionism into groups has found a gender difference so it was completely unexpected. I’m not sure where it comes from, and we need more research.’
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, was lesss surprised. He said that women often suffered from guilt at having to keep up high standards on two fronts.
‘They have what we call the double shift – working and then carrying out duties at home with men only helping at the margins.
‘They then feel guilty that they’re not doing well at work because of home commitments and they’re not doing well at home because of work commitments.
He added: ‘Women tend to be more conscientious, working to 100%.’