Women are doing too much – especially without help. So says a new Deloitte study. (Credit: Cottonbro Studio, Pexels)

A new study shows that women remain both overburdened and lacking support – not that we need a study to quantify that.

Financial advisors Deloitte released their fourth Women @ Work report this week, an annual effort that assesses women’s access to opportunities, and details what continues to hold them back from their aspirations. And this year, more women than ever are finding themselves hamstrung by their own stress levels – without any way to talk about it, no less.

“Half of women say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago, and a similar percentage say they’re concerned – or very concerned – about their mental health,” researchers wrote. “Yet, many women aren’t receiving adequate mental health support from their employers, and don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health in the workplace.”

Moreover, that lack of support and flexibility in workplaces is driving women to leave their positions in increasing numbers – among the 5,000 women from 10 different countries surveyed, poor work/life balance was a top reason cited for quitting or wanting to quit. And requesting in-office accommodations feels out of the question to most respondents – a whopping 95% feel that even asking would harm their chances of professional advancement.

There’s also a significant external factor at play: Women continue to shoulder the majority of household chores and childcare responsibilities, no matter what country they live in. “Women who take on the greatest share of household responsibility are far less likely to say they have good mental health than those who do not,” researchers wrote. “And some women fear that a lack of affordable childcare means that they may have to choose between their careers and their responsibilities at home.”

These findings are in line with what past iterations of the report have revealed, though previous installments were impacted greatly by the spectre of Covid, researchers noted. But even as society continues to evolve post-lockdown, the professional stresses – and the uneven distributions of home labor – have persisted.

A recent study from the World Bank supports the findings of this research effort. It found that there are no countries in the world – of the 190 studied – that offer women equal chances to engage with, and thrive in, a national workforce. “All over the world, discriminatory laws and practices prevent women from working or starting businesses on an equal footing with men,” Indermit Gill, chief economist of the World Bank Group, said.

Deloitte researchers view the release of this year’s Women @ Work report as the sounding of an alarm. They said, in conclusion: “The stark reality conveyed by this data cannot be ignored. It is our hope that organizations will use this critical insight to help drive meaningful and sustained change and enable gender equality in workplaces around the world.”