A new study out yesterday confirmed what many Americans already know—they're generally terrible at taking vacations. More than half of employees failed to use all of their allotted time off last year. There was, however, a promising data point in the report by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off: the average number of vacation days used is on the rise. But behind that positive trend is another worrying one: It's men who are driving the change.
Forty-eight percent of men took all their PTO last year, compared to 44% of female employees, even though women are more likely than men—58% versus 49%—to say vacation time is “extremely” important to them.
That is a statement of idealism, not behavior, the study says:
Women are more likely to say that guilt (25% to 20%) and the mountain of work they would return to (46% to 40%) hold them back from taking time off. Women also worry more than men about vacation making them seem less committed to their job (28% to 25%)
The gender divide was even starker among millennials, with 51% of millennial men using all of their vacation time in 2016, compared to 44% of their female counterparts. That's concerning since employees who forfeit vacation time are less likely to receive a raise or bonus or to be promoted than those who use all their PTO.
Katie Denis, the senior director of Project Time Off who authored the report, says millennial women are less likely "to vocalize" needing a vacation. "They feel like they need to apologize" for taking time off, she says.
The study says a lack of communication from managers has "created a vacuum" where negative perceptions about vacations persist. While managers agree that time off improves health and well-being (82%), boosts morale (82%), and alleviates burnout (81%), they fail to express that outlook explicitly. Two-thirds of employees surveyed said their "company culture is ambivalent, discouraging, or sends mixed messages about time off," a share that's virtually unchanged since 2014.
Millennial women were even more likely to feel that way. Their managers, Denis says, need to "create the avenues to say [taking a vacation] is OK."
On high alert
Following Monday's suspected terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K. PM Theresa May raised Britain's terrorism threat level from “severe” to “critical”—the highest level—for the first time in a decade. That means that another attack is not only highly likely, it may be imminent. May visited Manchester on Tuesday and vowed to fight the “ideology” behind the attack.
Rules of the road ahead
It's graduation season in the U.S., which means celebrities are putting on their wise counselor hats as they're enlisted as commencement speakers. British actress Helen Mirren took her turn at Tulane University in New Orleans in what was an especially colorful address. Mirren gave graduates "Helen's Top Five Rules for a Happy Life," such as, "Look fear straightaway in its ugly face and barge forward. And when you get past it, turn around and give it a good, swift kick in the ass."
In her shoes
Tamara Mellon co-founded luxury brand Jimmy Choo in 1996 and built it into a footwear empire before selling off her stake. More recently, she started another footwear company, Tamara Mellon Brand, that unveiled shoes and clothing during the season they were meant to be worn. But the approach failed, and Mellon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. The British designer talked with Fortune's Michal Lev-Ram about her latest endeavor, a reorganized, online-only version of her eponymous brand that's raised funding from venture capital firm NEA.
Word on the Street
State Street Global Advisors, the $2.56 trillion asset-management arm of financial giant State Street Corp, installed the "Fearless Girl" statue across from Wall Street's Charging Bull as part of a marketing campaign for a fund that only invests in companies committed to gender diversity. For all the sensation the statue generated, State Street is struggling to diversify its own ranks. The firm talked to Fortune's Annalyn Kurtz about which of its diversity efforts have worked and why they haven't worked better.
You've got male
The Society of Women Engineers has unveiled a treasure trove of rejection letters sent to two engineering students Lou Alta Melton and Hilda Counts, who, in 1919, contacted universities in hopes of starting a professional society by connecting with other women studying engineering. "We have not now, have never had, and do not expect to have in the near future, any women students registered in our engineering department,” one response read.
In a rare public speech in New York yesterday, Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson, No. 5 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list, said she's "still a believer" in digital currencies despite their slow adoption. Johnson, addressing her largest audience since succeeding her father as CEO in 2014, urged attendees of CoinDesk’s Consensus conference to make cryptocurrency and related technology more accessible for individuals and large institutions.
Put on trial
The corruption trial of South Korea's former president Park Geun-hye has started with the country's first female leader pleading not guilty. Park, who was ousted from office in March, is facing a 120,000-page charge sheet and a total of 18 charges. If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison for her alleged abuse of power and collusion with longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, allegations of which prompted mass protests in Seoul last year.
Trouble at home
Yang Shuping was selected by the University of Maryland to speak at the school's commencement, where the Chinese native talked of America's "fresh air"—first in terms of pollution and then in reference to democratic freedoms. Her remarks went viral in China as social media users there accused her of denigrating her homeland and told her to stay in the U.S. Yang later apologized, saying she "deeply loved" her motherland.
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—Judy O’Connor, a retired elementary school teacher, who received a surprise honorary MBA from Chapman University after attending every class with her quadriplegic son