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The Gender Question

Who's happier on the job: men or women?

Happiness on the job depends on many things, including opportunities to learn and grow. But it also, it seems, depends on gender. These days, women find more fulfillment in their jobs and personal lives than men do -- and that gap has widened.

In GMJ's second national survey of U.S. workers, engagement among women rose at twice the rate it did for men: up six percentage points between the fourth quarter of 2000 and first quarter of 2001, vs. three percentage points for men. This is significant because, as Gallup knows from its research, higher levels of employee engagement (which predict satisfaction and emotions like loyalty and pride) result in higher productivity.

The quarterly Q12 survey, in which a sample of U.S. workers are asked 12 questions pertaining to employee engagement, revealed that 35% of female workers are engaged with their jobs, compared with only 25% of male workers. Women are also less likely to be found among the least productive group of employees identified by the Q12 measure: those "actively disengaged," or fundamentally disconnected, from their work. Only 11% of women employees fell into that category, whereas 17% of men did. Most workers of both genders were not engaged, or dissatisfied, with their jobs.

Interestingly, the share of all workers engaged in their work rose by four percentage points since the last survey. It's impossible to say why, but one explanation is that glum tidings about the economy made everyone's job look better. Another is that holiday stress dampened worker enthusiasm, and that optimism rebounded after January.

The survey also showed women's greater fulfillment outside work. More women (39%) were satisfied with their personal lives than men (35%).

Results of this survey are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,010 employed adults aged 18 and older. Interviewing conducted by telephone during February 2001 by The Gallup Organization. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus three percentage points. For findings based on sub-groups, the sampling error would be greater.


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