A new study from the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off suggests that, after years of spurning vacation days, Americans’ attitude toward time off might finally be headed in a “positive direction” — but there’s a catch. According to the study, men are much more likely than women to use their vacation time, and the divide is even sharper among millennial men and women.
Researchers conducted an online survey of 7,331 American workers ages 18 and up who work more than 35 hours a week and whose employers give them paid time off. They found that in 2016, the percentage of men who used all their vacation time actually rose; 48 percent of men used all their vacation time, versus 45 percent in 2015. But although women were more likely than men to call vacation time “extremely” important to them, only 44 percent took advantage of their allotted days.
Among millennial men and women, the divide was more pronounced; whereas 51 percent of millennial men used all their vacation time last year (up from 44 percent last year), just 44 percent of millennial women did the same (down from 46 percent).
The study also hints at the reason for the disparity: According to researchers, women are more likely than men to worry that taking vacation time makes them seem less committed to their jobs. They’re also more likely to say that guilt and the pile of work that will await them upon return keep them from taking time off.
Millennial women in particular are more likely to say there’s a “culture of silence” around vacation time — that it isn’t discussed, or that they get negative messages about it. Ultimately, their “views on company culture” and “practical anxieties” prevent them from taking time off. To which we say: Time to invest in a pay-gap clock.