Breaking the Glass Ceiling with the Battle Scars to Prove It

It is not a small thing to say that women are integral in today’s workforce. As of 2017, 47% of the U.S. workforce are women, with 10 million businesses also being owned by women. With more families becoming dual-income households (60% as of 2012), 70% of mothers with children under 18 are in the labor force, with over 75% of them employed full-time. Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40% of households with children under 18 today, compared with just 11% in 1960. If all of these statistics haven’t made it clear yet, women today are under more stress today than they were in previous years. With the increasing burden of workforce stress on the female population, women are still expected to maintain household responsibilities. Married Americans mothers spend almost twice as much time on housework and child-care than do married fathers. With work bringing its slew of issues that cause stress, women are then coming home to more pressure from home life demands, when and how are women dealing with the increasing burden of stress in their lives?

In the past year, women were twice as likely as men to have symptoms of depression. Unipolar depression is

predicted to be the second leading cause of global disability burden by 2020 and is twice as common in women. Many women deal with the challenges of single parenthood, such as working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Also, women may be caring for their children while also caring for sick or older family members.

Along with depression, some women may become more susceptible to substance use or alcohol dependence, making depression and other disorders harder to treat. Women who drink have a higher risk of some alcohol-related issues compared to men. Studies show that women start to have alcohol-related problems sooner and at a lower drinking level than men. These alcohol-related diseases include liver damage, heart disease, alcohol use disorder (AUD), brain damage, breast cancer, and problematic pregnancies. While the overall prevalence of drinking and binge drinking did not change for men, there was a 10.1% increase in the incidence of drinking and a 23.3% increase in binge drinking among women.

With these statistics, the future can seem bleak for women; we have made fantastic strides with equality with the scars; it seems to prove it. Future directions in women’s health need to take primary preventive actions to build barriers between women and initial factors that can lead individuals to mental health and substance issues. Primary physicians should be more sensitive to the stresses that their female patients encounter with their lifestyles. Make sure individuals are aware of signs of alcohol misuse, depression, anxiety, and other disorders that can be caused by stress. If employers want their employees to be at their optimal health to avoid additional expenses in healthcare, they should invest in a resident psychologist or counselor. Someone that employees can talk to, to relieve stress and lessen the burden towards diseases. Just like businesses promote healthy eating and physical activity, employers should also put resources towards mental health. The U.S. government can push for policies making paid parental, family, and sick leave mandatory for all workers. Discussing gender roles and expectations in the families can also help to break down the unacknowledged disparity in the workload at home. These collective efforts and more are necessary for protecting not just women but all adults against stress, depression, alcohol-related issues, and more.

2 thoughts on “Breaking the Glass Ceiling with the Battle Scars to Prove It

  1. I absolutely love the first visual and the statistics that you used to highlight the point that women are burdened with so much. I think that it is so important for people to understand this burden so that they can have a better understanding of the possible root causes for using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Great job overall!

  2. I echo what Eleanor said above, this was fantastic! With your mention of primary care physicians should do more to notice the warning signs and triggers related to stressors and alcohol use, I agree! I had a Telehealth primary care appointment a few weeks ago and every time I see this physical the MA asks about my mood, have I felt depressed, worried, anxious, etc., but she only ever asks one question relating to my mental health and that is what they consider their “mental health screening.” Now that we have endured so much change in a short period of time due to the pandemic, I thought for sure there might be some new or at least more than one question about the state of my mental health, but there was not. Without the increased ask, I am afraid that many women will answer this question with ‘no’, hiding the fact that they are struggling and perhaps using alcohol to cope with life’s new stressors. So I also hope that new efforts are made in this setting, but also in other common everyday settings for women so we are able to seek the care and attention we may need from dealing with so much.

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