With Gains Come Dissatisfactions
However, the women we have come to know during our research for this book tell us that the revolution is far from over. As encouraging as the data may be, the stories these women tell us reveal that ascendancy has come at a price.
In the responses we gathered in our survey and in the interviews we conducted, women told us that the gains they have achieved have not brought them the happiness and satisfaction one might have expected. Even very successful women still experience significant stress, tension, and dissatisfaction.
Very few women say they have enough time, money, help, or love in their lives. And almost all women experience simple, chronic frustration with particular products and services (as well as some whole categories of goods), which seem to have been created and marketed by companies that have little to no understanding of who women today are and what they want.
Ironically, much of women’s dissatisfaction comes about as a direct result of their achievements. Women find themselves caught in an upward spiral. If they and their families are to continue to achieve higher levels of prosperity, health, education, and accumulated wealth, they have virtually no choice but to work full-time. Particularly in the developed world, a cycle has been created in which families—in order to increase their income—have become dependent on each new generation of women to improve their education and to progress higher in the workforce. In the United States, women contributed nearly 100 percent of the change in family income in the past decade.
To work or not to work is no longer a question for the majority of adult women.
And, although the status of women has changed, much of the world seems not to have noticed or adjusted to the new reality. For example, the great majority of women participate in the workforce, but these women still do most of the household chores— the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, bill-paying, and childcare—that women have always done. As a result, working women feel there are too many demands on their time. Married women with children experience the most pressure of all.
What’s more, although women control the spending in most categories of consumer goods—including food, clothing, personal care, household goods and services, travel, healthcare, financial services, and education—too many companies continue to make poorly conceived products, offer services that take up way too much of women’s precious time, and serve up outdated marketing narratives that portray women as stereotypes.