According to a recently released study from the U.S. Travel Association’s “Project: Time Off,” America saw its biggest uptick in people taking vacation days in the past 15 years. But there’s a discouraging trend in how many vacation days women take.
Despite the fact that more women than men ranked vacation as “extremely” important to them in the survey, it remains that 48 percent of men used up all of their vacation days in 2016, compared to just 44 percent of women.
Millennial men took off more days than millennial women, which shouldn’t be too shocking, as men of all ages in the survey took more vacation than women of all ages.
But the disparity between millennial men and millennial women is even greater than the disparity in other age groups. Only 44 percent of millennial women take time off compared to 51 percent of men, with the women citing guilt, fear of looking less committed to their job and work martyr habits as the reason.
“We need to put to rest the fallacy that ‘work ethic’ is equivalent to work martyrdom,” Cait Debaun, director of communications for Project: Time Off, said in a press release. “Not only are employees not getting ahead by sacrificing time off, these habits may also be harming their careers.”
Senior director of Project: Time Off Katie Denis, who authored the report, told Fortune that this gap might be because millennial men feel more confident and secure in their jobs. She added that millennial women are more likely to hide their needs for a vacation and, when they do take a break, then apologize for time off.
The health benefits of taking a vacation are innumerable. Time off gives your brain and your body a chance to recover from the stress of everyday life. People who make it a priority to go on trips have a reduced risk of heart disease, better ability to control their emotions and can even experience happier relationships. When it comes to benefits at work, those who took time off reported being more focused at work when they returned from their trip.
And while some of the statistics in the survey are bleak, Denis pointed out that the problems are all fixable.
“The issues facing our workforce around vacation culture, while alarming, also present clear opportunities and solutions. Americans are using more vacation, and the positive change can continue if American workers—particularly senior leaders—prioritize conversation, planning, and modeling of good vacation behavior,” Denis said in a statement.
The survey was conducted online by GfK between Jan. 26 and Feb. 20. GfK polled 7,331 U.S. workers over the age of 18, all of whom work more than 35 hours a week and receive paid time off from their employer.