Who's Got It Tougher?

It's official! A new national survey shows that men have an easier time in life than women. What's more, both men and women say it's so.

This is in sharp contrast to what people thought in the 1940s, according to longitudinal research conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide. When the same question was asked back then, both men and women agreed that women had an easier time.

This is what years of struggle for women has come down to? "If one's goal is to have a life of ease, then women have not made a whole lot of progress," says Bradford Fay, vice president and research director of Roper opinion trackers.

But there's more to life than workload, which is what the survey presumably measures. The Roper folks asked another question as well: If you were to be born over again, would you prefer to come back as a male or female?

The men wanted to come back as men. And the women wanted to come back as women. No surprise there. But that definitely wasn't the case half a century ago, when most women said they wanted to come back as a male.

Yes, women are not having an easier time. But they are more fulfilled, Fay concludes, a finding that jibes with that of many studies showing that the multiple roles women fill make their life chaotic but also confer assorted mental health advantages.

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