There’s been a lot of talk of women in the changing workforce recently, some optimistic, some not as much. Derek Thompson of The Atlantic recently wrote an enthusiastic article on “the triumph of women in the workplace,” which “has been one of the great success stories of the last 100 years.” Women recently hit the 50 percent mark in the workforce (before they dipped during the hecovery). They get more degrees than men and dominate fast-growing industries. Thompson predicts a rosy future for the American female worker. (I’m much more pessimistic.)
A lot of this, however, will play out (or is already playing out) in the next generation of female workers, the Millennials. But we don’t have to wait to find out how they’re faring in the workforce; Accenture surveyed them and captured some of its findings in an interesting infographic:
The two data points that most intrigued me were that Millennial women have the most positive outlook for working women than any other generation, yet about half feel that they have a lack of career opportunities, have not asked for a raise and are not proactively managing their careers.
The dissonance there may be in part a symptom of internalizing Thompson’s optimistic take and my pessimistic take at the same time. Women have flooded the workforce—but are still absent in the highest ranks. Women are getting more degrees—yet make less than men at every education level. Women are dominating growing industries—yet still experience pay discrimination. One step forward, one step back.
The most interesting data, however, may be graphs in the longer study. Take this one on job satisfaction:
Men and women are almost completely even in describing what’s making them feel unhappy at work. More women feel burned out; men seem to feel a bit more held back by what they’re doing. Yet feeling overworked and underpaid is an across-the-board sentiment. That’s not just a woman’s problem. (Go USA!)
Men and women are also feeling equally slowed down by the recession:
Yet there is one slowdown that women feel more than men:
That’s right, parenting. While the economy is dragging on everyone, family is slowing women down even more. That’s a pretty old problem cropping up in a new cohort of workers. It seems the next generation of women still haven’t left work-family issues behind.