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December 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Ladies, do we still live in a man’s world?

Ladies, are we standing in our own way? Or are we genetically predisposed to hit a glass ceiling while our male colleagues surge ahead? Maybe neither? pew-global-millennial-women’s-views-on-gender-and-work

My wheels are spinning after skimming the results of a new Pew study of more than 2,000 millennial women between the ages of 18 and 32.

Researchers say the good news is the wage gap is closing, women are more likely than men to obtain an education and workplace equality has improved.

And yet:

… there is no guarantee that today’s young women will sustain their near parity with men in earnings in the years to come. Recent cohorts of young women have fallen further behind their same-aged male counterparts as they have aged and dealt with the responsibilities of parenthood and family. For women, marriage and motherhood are both associated with less time spent on paid work-related activities. For men, the onset of family responsibilities has a reverse effect on their career.

Did you catch that last sentence? Fascinating. My gut reaction is to say it’s not fair for women to be punished because they choose to have families, but then I read about this perception women have of themselves:

For their part, young women today who have not yet had children expect that when they do, the impact on their careers will be negative. Among those ages 18 to 32, 63 percent think that having children will make it harder for them to advance in their job or career.

I don’t have kids, but I’ve always assumed my career would take a hit of some kind if I ever did become a mother. And it gives me plenty of pause.

Where does that self-doubt come from? How did I internalize this mindset? Because it doesn’t match up with reality. I’m surrounded at The Seattle Times, for instance, by women leaders who’ve shown it’s possible to balance work and motherhood. My own mom worked throughout my childhood. We’re living in the era of wildly successful female leaders like Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who are forcing society to have a more open mind about what it takes for moms to stay in the workforce.

The key to “making it all work,” it seems, is to have the right support network and/or partner.

The Pew report is a timely reminder that gender stereotypes persist. To a certain degree, our own perceptions of our potential can become barriers to our ability to rise in our professional lives.

But the other key takeaway from the study is this: The majority of those who choose to cut their hours, reject promotions, or quit their jobs altogether to raise their children or care for loved ones were still plenty satisfied in life. No complaints or regrets.

It feels good to know women are talking about career and motherhood so much more openly.

Here are more interesting graphs from the study (See/download more charts at this link):





Comments | Topics: careers, lean in, motherhood


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