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Is Perfectionism Hurtful to Women?

Little did Voltaire know almost 250 years ago, the quest for perfection can be hurtful indeed, especially to women, according to a recent study. As compared to men in a study of nearly 300 patients, a greater number of women believe they failed to meet the high standards they set for themselves at home and in the workplace.

Researchers were puzzled by the unexpected gender gap among women versus men, with perceived rates of failure among females exceeding 30 percent in the work arena (38 percent) and at home (30 percent). What's more, men who considered themselves perfectionists were generally happier.

One expert likened the differences among the sexes regarding perfectionism to a "double-shift" effect in which many women struggle mightily with satisfying their ideal work-life balance, wanting to compete successfully in the corporate world while keeping on top of their responsibilities at home, and feeling guilty about doing neither very well.

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 82, No. 2, June 2009, p. 349-367

BBC News May 28, 2009

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