Beth Kanter on the Unique Challenges Facing Working Women

Beth Kanter


Beth Kanter, acclaimed author and non-profit thought leader, will speak at WFN’s upcoming Leadership for a Changing World conference this fall in San Francisco. We caught up with her to hear a little more about her thoughts on gender equity and the unique challenges female leaders face. 

At our conference this fall, you will lead a session on how female leaders can be healthier and happier. How do you think the challenges women leaders face differ from those of their male counterparts?
The World Health Organization has recently classified workplace burnout as an illness, in order to call attention to the negative impact of work-related stress that impacts everyone—no matter their gender. While both men and women can suffer from burnout due to toxic workplace culture, it seems to affect women at higher rates (according to a recent study from Montreal University).

Women’s work does not end with their day job and they often end up being responsible for the majority of family or household “life” duties, including meal preparation, cleaning, and caring for kids, among other tasks. “Personal” time often becomes “work time.” The challenge for women, who are natural caretakers, is to balance relaxation time with family responsibilities and their professional work.      

In my workshop, I’ll be covering the symptoms of burnout so women are aware of this, but also how to craft a self-care that is the antidote to burnout.

The Leadership for a Changing World conference will bring together global thought leaders and change makers around the topic of gender equity. Why do you think this is such an important issue, especially now?
Women’s rights are being challenged around the world, and especially here in the US, so gender equity is critical. It is also needed in the workplace. The study I reference above directly attributes higher rates of female burnout to their jobs. For example, many women hold positions with little decision-making power and they often have low levels of authority; even worse, some jobs don’t make full use of their skills. All these factors can lead to more burnout by women. We need gender equity in the workplace—not only through equal pay, but by putting more women in positions of power.

What do you personally hope to get out of the conference?
I can’t wait to connect with women who will be attending this conference. Women’s networks are powerful and this conference is not only helping us learn, but also helping us to connect. 

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