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Zoom fatigue is worse for women: Here’s why

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
woman stressed about project in front of laptop while working from home.
Have you experienced Zoom fatigue? (Image: Getty).

Ever log off a Zoom chat and feel like sleeping for a million years?

You’re not alone. Zoom fatigue is now an observed phenomenon and a new study has found it’s even worse for women.

A study of 10,591 people found that while one in 20 men reported feeling “very” to “extremely” zapped after a Zoom call, that proportion increased to one in seven for women.

The study by University of Gothenburg and Stanford University found that women also tend to have longer meetings and shorter breaks between them than men.

Women were more likely to feel Zoom fatigue due to what social psychologists term “self-focused attention”, that’s fueled by the mirror view in Zoom meetings.

This “mirror anxiety” means women are more likely to feel self-conscious during Zoom meetings as they examine their appearance.

The researchers asked participants: “During a video conference, how concerned do you feel about seeing yourself?” and “During a video conference, how distracting is it to see yourself?”

Women tended to feel more negatively affected by their mirror screen. However, they were also more likely to feel “trapped” by having to stay within the camera’s view.

Younger people were also more likely to experience Zoom fatigue than their older counterparts.

"Non-white" people were also more likely to report Zoom fatigue, something the researchers described as requiring “urgent research attention”.

The study comes after another, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that women were more likely to focus on themselves when looking at a mirror and the same occurred during Zoom meetings. In turn that triggered higher levels of self-consciousness.

"As the world transitions to the post-pandemic era, in which the future of work is likely to be hybrid, it will be important to maximize the benefits of video conferencing while reducing the psychological costs, especially given that these costs are born unequally across society," the Guthenberg and Stanford researchers said in their paper.

They said more research is required to examine the consequences of Zoom fatigue and how best to organise Zoom meetings to avoid the negative effects.

“Several researchers have already pointed at the disproportionate negative impact of COVID on women such as greater economic hardships, heavier childcare load than men, and also increased struggles with body image. In this way, our findings add to the body of knowledge showing the disproportionate negative impact of the COVID pandemic on women.”

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance