Zoom fatigue is more intense for women than men, research shows. Here's why

New research from Stanford finds that an endless parade of Zoom calls takes a larger toll on one gender. Age, race and personality also make a difference.

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Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome
2 min read

Zoom fatigue is real, and tends to impact women more than men, a Stanford study found.

Sarah Tew/CNET

More than a year into the pandemic, most of us are familiar with the concept of "Zoom fatigue" -- that feeling of utter exhaustion after a day spent on video calls, sitting at your makeshift desk and staring at yourself and your coworkers on screen. Although Stanford researchers had already determined some of the reasons why Zoom fatigue happens (including the excessive eye contact and the extra energy required to pick up on social cues virtually), new research from the university finds that women are far more likely to feel exhausted than men after Zoom and other video calls. 

The study, released Tuesday on the Social Science Research Network, surveyed more than 10,000 people in February and March to understand individual differences in burnout from using video conferencing tech over the past year. Overall, one in seven women (almost 14%) reported feeling "very" to "extremely" fatigued after Zoom calls, compared with one in 20 men (5.5%). 

Read more: Zoom anxiety lingers even a year into the WFH era

The main reason for this difference seems to be the increase in what psychologists call "self-focused attention," or the awareness of how you look or come across in a conversation, triggered by the self-view of the camera. (The researchers recommended turning off your camera to mitigate this.) And while men and women tend to have the same number of meetings per day, women's meetings tend to run longer. Women are also less likely to take breaks between meetings, which can increase fatigue. 

Outside of gender, the researchers found differences in levels of Zoom fatigue based on personality type, age and race. Extroverts reported feeling less exhausted after video calls than introverts, as did calm, emotionally stable individuals compared with those who are more anxious. Younger participants reported higher levels of fatigue than older ones. Participants of color also reported a slightly higher level of exhaustion compared with white participants. The researchers said they are now exploring what contributes to this finding in particular in a follow-up study. 

For more, check out our tips on how to combat Zoom anxiety and fatigue15 ways to use Zoom like a pro and the best headphones for working from home

Watch this: 3 video calling alternatives to Zoom
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