Wait, what?! A lot of women aren’t using their vacation time at work

Karen Fratti
Wait, what?! A lot of women aren’t using their vacation time at work

For a long time, there was a trend in America of people not using their vacation time and working themselves to the bone. According to new research, Americans are starting to get better at relaxing overall and taking their paid time off. But like so many other messed up things in the workplace, there’s one group of people that are reaping the benefits of this cultural shift. Surprise, surprise: Women don’t use their vacation time as much as men do, even though they consider it “extremely important” to them.

According to a survey of 7,331 Americans who work over 35 hours a week and get paid time off, the number of men taking their allotted days went up from 45 to 48 percent from 2015 and 2016. But only 44 percent of women take their time off. When you calculate for age, millennial women are actually taking way less time than their male counterparts, which is sort of odd, since one would think that younger women would break from tradition and feel more confident about their place in the office. Alas, they do not.

Only 44 percent of millennial women took time off, which is actually down from the 46 percent that did in 2015. On the other hand, there were 51 percent of millennial men who used all of their vacation time in 2016, which was up from 44 percent in 2015.

The reasons why women don’t take vacation are even worse than the stats.

Women aren’t taking as much time off because don’t think they can. According to the survey, women were more likely to think that taking their paid vacation time off would make them look flaky. They were also more likely than men to say that there’s a “culture of silence” around putting in for your vacation time or think that they’re getting negative messages about what would happen if they take the time. In addition to that, they also were more likely to say that “practical anxieties” prevented them from taking off. So they feel guilty about leaving their teams for a week and worry about the work that will build up while they’re gone.

Bah! Everyone: If you signed a contract that gives you paid time off, take it. Yes, emails will build up. Someone under you will likely mess something up, because you’re obviously The Boss. But you earn that time off and your male co-workers are obviously not worrying about their “guilt” while they’re sipping cocktails by the pool or off seeing the wonders of the world. The only thing that will change the culture around vacation time is if people actually use it.

Come on, now. Don’t ruin this for the rest of us. Shoot for European-style levels of extra when it comes to taking time off. You’ll be less likely to burn out or start hating your job if you take vacation time. Especially when it’s paid.