Perfectionism: Women suffer more

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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A higher proportion of women feel that they do not meet their own high standards with family and workplace commitments, say US researchers.

According to a study of 288 adults, when it comes to feelings of inadequacy at home and at workplace, ladies suffer more than men.

Authors of the study, which has been published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, claim that such perfectionism can have a negative effect on the work-life balance.

The study’s volunteers had to work at least 20 hours a week and have family commitments, reports The BBC.

Most people were married and 80 percent had at least one child living at home.

Statements included in the questionnaire 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”.

In the study, respondents were categorised into those who set themselves very high standards but felt they did not meet them, those who set high personal standards and were happy with their performance, and non-perfectionists.

At work, 38 percent of women did not feel they met the high standards they set themselves, compared with 24 percent of men, the study found.
When it came to home and family life, 30 percent of women felt they were failing to meet the standards they wanted to compared with 17 percent of men.
Study author Dr Jacqueline Mitchelson, assistant professor in psychology at Auburn University in Alabama, said: “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.”
Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said women often felt blameworthy when juggling work and home commitments.

“They have what we call the double shift – trying to juggle working and competing at work 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 suffer from perfectionism. They tend to be more conscientious, working to 100 percent.”

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