A Woman’s Paradox: The unique challenges facing women who “want it all”


Despite progress toward “having it all,” research shows that American women are less satisfied and burn out more quickly. And today's economic realities mean fewer options when it comes to choosing between work and home.

High Aspiration, High Burnout


A growing number of young women who “want it all” are burning out at work before 30.

Men are twice as likely as women to advance at each career stage

According to experts, young women don't relax enough and are too focused on developing a well-rounded resume

Substantial student debt means they can't quit

Compared to women, men are:
25% more likely to take breaks at work
7% more likely to take a walk
5% more likely to go out at lunch

Despite higher levels of education and pay, American women are less satisfied overall.

In 1970, 11% of women age 25-64 held college degrees. Today that number is 36%.

Women earn the majority of professional and doctoral degrees, up from just 10% in 1961.

In 1972, women's wages were 57.9% of men's. In 2011, that number rose to 77%.

In the 1970s, American women were happier than men, but over the past three decades, they've become less happy and are now less happy than men.

Motherhood and Career

Just 71% of mothers with children under 18 were in the labor force in 2011, compared to 94% of fathers.

More than 10% of stay-at-home moms regret giving up their career.

15% agree that they resent their partner for being the one to continue working after baby was born.

More than a third of working moms (36%) agree that sometimes they resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with the baby/kids.

…And yet half of working moms agree that their overall happiness would increase if they didn't work.

…But lately, it just isn't economically feasible.

53% of women are breadwinners in their households.

Just 7% of households consist of married couples where only the husband is in the labor force.


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Meridith Dennes is a co-founder and the CEO of Project Eve LLC, a leading women's lifestyle media company online including some of the web's best loved communities including the eponymous Project Eve, Getting Balance, Project Eve Moms, Project Eve Money and Scary Puppy Silly Kitty. With a digital readership in excess of 20+ million monthly uniques, and over 1 million social media followers, Project Eve provides the news and resources to inspire and empower women. Meridith also works as a digital consultant and social media strategist and has worked with several Fortune 500 companies to help increase brand awareness and improve social media engagement.Meridith holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business. Prior to founding Project Eve, she spent 15 years working in investment banking. Meridith currently lives in Vermont with her husband and 2 daughters and spends her free time teaching skiing, practicing yoga, hiking and snowshoeing.


  1. This is quite interesting. I’m going to have to read it again to fully digest it but thank you so much for sharing. I do want to say I can understand why women are less likely to take breaks. In male-dominated fields, you’re automatically perceived as 2nd-rate until you prove yourself. And even then, there’s often very little wiggle room. But for me – I’m learning to give this to God. I can’t control how other people see me, but I can do my best and give it to Him.