Please Take Your Vacation Days, Millennial Women
Come on! Just take it!
Today is that weird, strange Friday before Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s technically the start of “summer.” Time to think about vacation. which, if you’re a millennial woman reading this, is something you haven’t thought about nearly enough. Or at all, really. Because you’re leaving your vacation days on the table while the millennial men you work with are asking for days off left and right, going on ski trips to Vail and doing Tough Mudders in Dallas while you sit at your desk and work through it all.
Another study out of Project: Time Off (courtesy of the Washington Post) shows that more people are actually taking their time off — vacation use has risen to about 16.8 days per person, up from 16.2 last year. Yes, it’s a tiny shift, but it’s on the rise, so overall, American workers are taking their time off. But, there’s also a gender gap.
Millennial men are very comfortable taking their time off, though 58 percent of women say that vacations are “extremely important” to them. Millennial women are also more likely to recognize the positive effects of vacation, like relieving burnout, improving focus, and boosting morale and job commitment. But the practicalities of taking a vacation almost always win out.
In explaining why they weren’t using all their time, young women were also more likely to say they felt guilty, replaceable or wanted to “show complete dedication.” On every measure, whether it was the fear of returning to too much work or worrying that no one else can do their jobs, more young women were concerned about the effect of vacation than young men.
“Millennial women tend to have more pronounced guilt and feel they don’t want to burden people with their time away,” said Katie Denis, the lead researcher for Project: Time Off. “They’re more likely to identify with that ‘work martyr’ brand of thinking.” Indeed, although the data showed a similar gender divide in other age groups, Denis said, it was most pronounced among millennial women, 46 percent of whom said it was a good thing for their boss to see them as a work martyr, compared with 43 percent of millennial men and 38 percent of overall respondents.
Asking to take time off always feels like an inconvenience to me, personally, even though as a freelancer, I am in charge of my own time. In previous jobs, when I’ve taken time off, there was always a flurry of panicked preparation beforehand, sending long and detailed emails that listed out everything I was missing and everything my co-workers would need to follow up or through with any of my duties should any emergency arise. I couldn’t really go on vacation without doing that; it wouldn’t feel right and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself. I never considered it martyrdom, just being extra, super-prepared. Also nice, also considerate. But, a company is a relatively self-sustaining entity. Things always went on in my absence. Everything was always fine.
There’s probably something to be said here about leaning in and having it all and living your life like the gnarliest, cigar-chomping-est caricature of a dude you can think of, jabbing meaty fingers at a calendar and saying in stentorian tones “I’M TAKING THIS WEEK OFF AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME” but I’ll set that aside for now. Instead, consider the fictional millennial man, taking the ultimate vacation of his entire life, for a cool $5,219 total.
Do you think Dev felt guilty about putting his life on hold to go make pasta in Modena and chase a bike thief through cobblestoned squares accompanied by a tiny child named Mario? Nope. He didn’t. Granted, his job is a little different than your standard office job and also, it’s fiction, but still. Take your vacation! Go on vacation. If you can afford it, take some time off and go. Work will always be there when you get back.
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