She’ll definitely put your oxygen mask on first.

By Jeanne

Women have a hard time taking care of themselves. And as women who talk to women, we also know they have a hard time even talking about themselves and their own preferences.  There’s a lot of talk about balance and how women should prioritize themselves so they can best take care of others, but we don’t always see that in action when doing our work.

  • When we give women the payment for their participation in our research, most say they are going to use it for something their kids need, or to treat their family to something fun.
  • Women often do the “mundane things” and don’t mind them, in fact enjoy them, if it gives them just a bit to be alone — and NOT feel guilty about that alone time!  (Which includes grocery shopping, running errands for the family, even her morning shower, you name it, but it’s time alone without guilt.)
  • We have frequently asked women to keep a journal as part of a study. It never fails that one woman mentions (with several other women nodding) how much she enjoyed putting down her thoughts and ideas and that she misses it when the project is over. The process makes her pause, take a breath and think about herself, why she does what she does and typically she becomes more self-aware the longer she journals. Yet, it’s unlikely that many keep journaling.

So women’s nurturing instinct is alive and well, 24/7.   Which is important to know when you’re talking with women and asking them to focus on their own actions and opinions.  As moderators, we find ourselves saying “but what about you, just think about yourself” when we’re asking women about their own preferences.  Which means often it’s the second or third response that gets to the heart of the matter. The first response is probably about others; the truth about herself is a little further underneath.

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