Have it all dream or do it all nightmare?

Jun 10 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Six out of ten women in the UK are so fed up by the struggle of juggling work and life that they would like to give up work altogether.

A poll of 2,000 women by Top Santé magazine found that nine out of ten women felt they were trying to fulfil too many roles, while two-thirds said that poor work-life balance was the key to their deep frustration.

Indeed despite the fact that half the women in the UK who work full time earn more than their male partner, the overwhelming majority of women said they felt like they were on a treadmill and wished they could change their lives.

More than seven out of ten also felt they were underpaid, while half admitted their finances were "out of control" and that they regularly spent more than they earned.

Yet it is the difficulty of meeting all the domestic and professional roles expected of them, rather than a dislike of their chosen career, that emerges as the main reason behind women’s disillusionment.

Almost nine out of ten - 86 per cent - of women working full-time said that they still do most of the domestic chores. More than three quarters also said that they took full responsibility for looking after their children or organising childcare, while eight out of ten said that when their children were ill, they - rather than the children’s father - take time off work.

But despite their frustration, only one in five said they would be prepared to take a pay cut to "downshift".

Marina Gask, editor of Top Santé, said that women need “50 hours in the day” to juggle all their roles. The “have it all dream” turns into a “do it all nightmare”, she said.

“As so many women are now the main breadwinners, I think that many feel trapped — as if they cannot escape from their full- time jobs and spend more time with their families because everything depends on them.”

But although six out of ten of the women questioned felt that life is easier for men, the survey stopped short of comparing its findings with men's attitudes to their lives – possibly because the attitudes that emerge from research amongst men are remarkably similar.

So could the seven out of ten women who denied that their expectations of life were too high be expecting too much? Marina Gask thinks not.

“So many women simply have too much on. They have worked hard to get their careers and have done really well, to the extent that they are earning more than their partners, and yet they still have all the other domestic things to do and be all things to all people."