AMONG MILLENNIALS, 67% OF WOMEN AND 43% OF MEN BELIEVE IT WILL BE WOMEN WHO WILL LEAD CHANGE IN THE WORLD.
Nearly half a century ago, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing and young females had a choice to make: cling to tradition or ride the feminist wave wherever it might take them. For young women today, the notion of “choosing sides” simply does not exist. Having been raised in an atmosphere in which sexual equality is assumed (for the most part), they watch retro programming such as Mad Men with bemusement. Was that really how things were? This is not to say that gender conflict and roles have disappeared entirely, but, rather, that new issues have emerged. Many young women in developed countries are feeling out of step with the world their feminist mothers created. In some respects, they are seeking a return to tradition, looking for a life-work balance that has not been possible for women caught up in the have-it-all/do-it-all pressures of modern life. A major impediment? Male partners who are neither willing nor able to revert to the traditional male role of provider and protector.
For this study, we surveyed 2,000 young people in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study examines the significant attitudinal and behavioral shifts the sexes are undergoing, particularly in the West, as women begin to outpace men in academic achievement and become a more powerful presence in the workplace and in society as a whole.
Key findings include:
Greta Garbo, they’re not. The notion of living life alone is anathema to the younger generation. These pioneers of social media evince a strong need for face-to-face companionship and enduring love. When we asked millennials to cite their greatest fear regarding the future, the number one response was “being alone.”
Many are totally over this “modern woman” thing. Millennial women take their equality with men for granted and have difficulty even imagining a time when females were denied entry to most schools and occupations. Nevertheless, they are keenly aware of the double duty women pull in the aftermath of the women’s movement, not so much “having it all” as “doing it all.” Accordingly, six in 10 millennial females cite life-work balance or work atmosphere rather than salary as the most important factors in choosing a job.
Move over, boys. It has been well under a century since women gained the right to vote in the three markets studied, yet there is clear support for the notion that it is women who will lead global change.
Seeking a return to chivalry. Millennial women would never tolerate a return to male domination, but they do show signs of nostalgia for a time when men were ready to step up to the plate as providers and protectors. When asked whether “men should be the ones to lead and initiate in romance,” females were significantly more likely to agree than disagree. Are men up for the job? Not exactly: Millennial males in two of the three markets shot down the notion.