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.

Two Months, Seven Days, Four Hours, Forty-Eight Seconds, and Counting.

At this point, I find it hard to remember what day it is. Every day is starting to feel like a Saturday or a Sunday. But not in the way where you can relax and enjoy the free time, maybe have a pleasant outing at the park or a restaurant. No, the type of weekend where you have loads of laundry to wash, a work presentation due on Monday, a school assignment on Tuesday, a lawn to cut. Even now, as I write, I have a clear peripheral of a hamper full of clean laundry that I will probably fold during my lunch break. The line between work and my personal life that used to be drawn by the hour-long traffic rides is no longer there. Now, I simply minimize the browser that has my work tabs on it and bring up the browser with Netflix, Reddit, and the latest recipe on Bon Appetit. The latter being nowhere near as satisfying.  Staying at home during the pandemic has blurred the boundaries between the pressures of work-life and personal life into one ever-growing mountain of stress that seems inescapable in the confines of my home, and I need relief.

The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home mandate have brought several highly stressful risk factors that can lead to women, like me, looking to alcohol for relief. Potential stressors like unemployment, lack of childcare, isolation, household responsibilities in combination with work responsibilities, and domestic partner abuse can all be catalysts to increase in alcohol consumption, with several of these factors having a more significant burden on women. It is no wonder that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an increase in alcohol sales. Even though bars and restaurants may be closed, grocery stores have seen a spike in alcoholic sales. Nationally, all alcoholic beverages saw a 58% increase in sales since March. Wine sales were up 66% overall with canned wines rising by 95% and canned cocktails up by 93% (Micallef, n.d.). While these results do not give details on the sex differences in purchases, it is no mystery that marketers in the wine industry have taken a liking to women to increase their sales. Recent studies by the Wine Markey Council and Nielsen show women are buying and drinking wine more often than men and more often, in general (Women, especially millennials, are driving wine trends-Chicago Tribune. (n.d.)). Also, women are likely to be the primary shoppers in their households, making them the primary purchaser of alcohol all the more plausible.

Grocery shopping is just one of the many household responsibilities that women traditionally are expected to do, even while more women are taking on full-time employment. Also, if both parents work full-time, women are still primarily in charge of most household duties.

In a national poll, women were more likely than men to say their lives have been disrupted because of the coronavirus (Cahn, N. (n.d.)). These abrupt changes in many women’s lives have cause evident stress and tension that can put them at serious risk for an increase in alcohol consumption. To provide relief, the U.S. government should develop policies that focus on equal work and home support during and potentially after this pandemic. Policies like ensuring better health insurance benefits and paid/sick leave for those unable to come to work because they are taking care of children or elders at home (Women and COVID-19) would reduce the burden of stress felt by many women in this country and lessen the chances of women seeking alcohol as a coping mechanism.

While we shelter in place, remember to take a break. Find constructive ways to relieve stress and set clear boundaries between your responsibilities, your housemates, and your peace of mind. More and more companies are finding fascinating ways to provide online experiences that we can enjoy from the safety of our couches. Learn a new hobby, call up a friend, start a journal, make sure that whatever you do to relieve the tension that is sustainable and productive to your overall health. During the weekday, schedule in time to relax and be mindful, even if it is only for a couple of minutes. If you are living with others, do not be afraid to ask for help around the house. If you find that you are not doing a lot of the household chores, pick up a task or two to help a loved one. I will end this post like I have been finishing my Zoom calls, phone calls, and text messages with friends and family, stay safe.

Cahn, N. (n.d.). Women And The Frontlines Of COVID-19. Forbes. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from–covid-19/

Micallef, J. V. (n.d.). How The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Upending The Alcoholic Beverage Industry. Forbes. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from

Women and COVID-19: Five things governments can do now. (n.d.). UN Women. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from

Women, especially millennials, are driving wine trends—Chicago Tribune. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2020, from