April 22, 2009
Do women feel more guilty than men taking time off work?
According to Expedia's ninth annual Vacation Deprivation survey we do.
A poll of 1,500 adults conducted this March revealed that 40 percent of U.S. women feel guilty taking a vacation from work, while only 29 percent of men do. And while both sexes receive an average of 13 vacation days from their employer, men are more likely to take a two-week vacation each year than women (12 percent of men take off two weeks straight, while 8 percent of women do).
My first thought upon seeing these stats was, "There we women go again, selling ourselves short." After all, plenty of ink has been spilled about how men are more likely to negotiate salary and benefits than women -- and how women who do negotiate are sometimes penalized for it.
But perhaps the fact that men are more likely than women to take a two-week vacation each year has nothing to do with guilt or gender stereotypes. Perhaps Expedia's finding that 44 percent of U.S. men regularly work more than 40 hours a week for their employer while only 29 percent of women do accounts for this discrepancy.
Or perhaps we should stop comparing who's better at relaxing in this country and ask ourselves why a third of us leave three vacation days on the table each year -- even if we do get compensated for not taking them. Sure, the French leave two vacation days on the table each year, but they get a whopping 38 vacation days to start with. Then there are the vacation-loving British. While they receive a mere 26 vacation days a year, they're the country least likely to leave a single vacation day on the table.
So where do you fall on the guilt-free vacation spectrum? Do you feel sheepish leaving the office behind -- even if you're only traveling to your backyard or living room? Or can you completely clock out for a couple days or weeks without so much as sneaking a peek at your work email?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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