Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Until They're 35)

young women prioritize fun at workFor young women, it's more important that their work is fun than lucrative, according to a survey by the New Work Project. Young men, in contrast, want fun and money in equal measure. But when women hit 35, priorities change. Women in their career boom-years place fun at the same level as salary, just like men 10 years younger.

So far, 12,000 people have completed the questionnaire, which in one section asks respondents: "In three words, describe your ideal working arrangement." For women between the ages of 25 and 34, "fun" is clearly the most popular keyword, followed by "money," "rewarding," "hours," "fair," "home," "challenging," "relaxed" and "supportive."

Between the ages of 35 and 44, things switch around a little. "Home" takes the crown for working women, followed by "fun" and "money," trailed by many of the same descriptors, except "relaxed" falls down the rankings, beaten by "friendly," "productive," "secure" and "family time."

The reason for that is simple, according to Dr. Lara Sherbin, the director of research at the nonprofit think tank Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP): "When you hit 35 you probably have a mortgage."

The Turning Point

Members of this age group, known as Generation X, are reaching the point where they're saving for their children's college education, paying that mortgage, and realizing that "you're going to retire at some point and should probably start saving for it."

Men between the ages of 20 and 24 are all about the "fun," but at 25 money becomes an equal goal and stays that way until age 44, at which point money zooms way ahead. Women at 45 also ditch "fun" as an ambition, but the desire for money is matched by a desire for "home," along with what's "secure" and "fair."

A study on Generation Y (the under-34 set) by CWLP found that while more of its men were concerned with "being highly compensated" (91 percent to 88 percent), its women were actually more worried about paying off student and credit card debt (74 percent to 69 percent, and 79 percent to 68 percent, respectively).

Young women in general prioritize fun over money, expect to earn less money and also make less money. A survey of students at Europe's top colleges found that women expect to earn, on average, 21 percent less than what men expect. This may be one of the reasons why women earn, on average, 17.5 percent less than men in the European Union.

The same phenomenon has been found stateside. A May study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that of the nearly 600 recent graduates polled, men were out-earning women by an average of more than $5,000 a year.

A Holistic View

Why should women care less about money in those early working years -- a time that can have a serious, accumulated impact on lifetime earnings? According to Sherbin, men and women see recognition very differently. While the sexes crave recognition equally, men see it as tied more to salary. "Women want the 'thank you's,' " she says. "The appreciation."

There is also trend among the young cohort to take a more holistic view of the value that they're getting from their jobs. "Generation Y looked at how their parents lived, and are saying 'I don't want to do that, i don't want that life for myself,' " Sherbin says.

This is why, she says, "Google-ized environments" have become such popular destinations for young people. "They want the the beanbag chairs, the flamingos."

Women take this to more of an extreme, she adds. They focus less on the salary and more on the ability to give back to the community, the intellectual stimulation of the work, the right team setting, the right colleagues.

And at a slightly older age, working women are "recalibrating their decision to leave their children almost every morning. There has to be something else besides a paycheck to get them to do that."

The CWLP study found that more women than men considered it important that their work "gave back" to the world or their community. In the boomer generation, that difference was 90 percent to 79 percent. For Generation Y, that gap closed ever slightly.

Battle of the Breadwinners

This difference was also apparent in the European Union study. Men not only expected higher salaries, they also had a stronger desire to be a leader or manager, and cared more about prestige. A quarter of men wanted a position with high levels of responsibility, compared with 17 percent of women. The female students, on the other hand, placed greater importance on working for a company with high corporate social responsibility and ethical standards.

These preferences may underly the over-representation of women in the public and nonprofit sectors, and their near invisibility at the highest rungs of the for-profit sector. Women also volunteer more than men, across the board, and give more to charity at every income-level.

Men may also feel a greater pressure to earn money, to be the breadwinner, as this is how society has functioned for so long. "Thirty-nine percent of women now out-earn their husbands in the economy. They're increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners," says Sherbin. "But that means 61 percent of men still out-earn their wives."

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Sounds like the new group of tomorrow's version of LAZY GOLD DIGGING HOUSEWIVES is on the horizon. Look out HARD WORKING MEN, ATHLETES and BIG MONEY PROFESSIONALS!!! MAKE THEM WORK to help support their EXPENSIVE TASTES.

October 03 2011 at 5:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What I have seen in many years of working for a Fortune 100 company is this: Many women want or demand it both ways. No matter what they may do, or not do, they want good pay and benefits, image, fun, style, and material possessions. On dates, they still expect the man to pay .. even though they may make substantially MORE $$$$$ than the man. In a marriage or co-habit situation, they are often the big spenders, while the man is expected to invest, save, and "provide" for the future". Many career women aggressively use whatever sexuality they may have to influence hiring, promotions, transfers, and general employment prospects. Virtually all weddings I have attended resulted in the woman benefitting far more financially than the man. Many rich women having nothing to do with marriage ..yet rich men are expected to marry someone to "complete" their lives. Whoa !!!! Whatever happened to "equality" we were promised by the feminist groups ? Far too many modern women have become party girls, in-your-face, raunchy, filthy-talking, slutty dressing, greedy airheads who expect the world, and more.

October 03 2011 at 4:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

and on a side note, a fun job=good paychecks rolling in.

October 03 2011 at 3:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i agree with the article. if you really enjoy your job, then if really is fun! women also hold in the back of their minds that having children will eventually change everything- from retiring and raising your children to going back to work in a few months or years. thus, the permanency of work for women is not as stable as men. i am quite old fashioned... i like the idea of the man being the 'bread winner'. men are definitely more interested in money and advancement and a life long career than women. whether you're the baby boomer, x or y, somethings just don't change. TRADITION! TADITION!

October 03 2011 at 3:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Let's be honest about the obvious. Younger women are less concerned about earning money because they are accustom to the man paying for things (whether within a marriage or not). At age 35 many are actually starting to pay more significant bills (again whether within a marriage or not) and their perspective changes. In addition men's attracitiveness is judged by women on their earning abilitiy much more than women's attractiveness is judged by men on their earning ability.

October 03 2011 at 12:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Have never known a job which was fun!

October 03 2011 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gas0244's comment

Everything is fun...until it becomes your job !!! Be careful what you choose in life and have some fun....everything else really takes a back seat. Happiness is everything !

October 03 2011 at 1:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bigg12u2's comment

well said. and so is health.

October 03 2011 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Casey Anthony seems to be a good example, she apparently got rid of her own baby just so that she could continue to have fun!

October 02 2011 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this article is generalizing all women. money is certainly more important than "fun." Who in their right minds look towards having fun while trying to make a living? All people should try to work doing what they enjoy. If they are surveying Moms', then they may find that the moms' would rather have a fun or social job than make tons of money if they are enjoying a "traditional" family setup. this article opens up tons of lowlife sexist comments.

October 02 2011 at 10:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That is why they are all going into porn. They can get paid to LAY on their backs and suck up all the fun.

October 02 2011 at 10:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

They use to say girls matured sooner then boys. I believe they were talking about their bodies not their brains. Because these days American girls and so-called young women are the most immature people one the planet. Seriously, all they want to do is have fun and strip.

October 02 2011 at 10:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to me's comment

You are right it was about the body not the brain. People twisted the meaning around to make girls sound like they were better than boys.

October 02 2011 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll be sure to tell all my other female friends in medical and dental school to put their clothes back on...because, you know, studying is second in our lives to showing the world our assets.

October 02 2011 at 11:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lindsey's comment

When I said he was right I was talking about the original reason scientists said girls matured faster than boys. At the time girls could get pregnant at 12 or 14 and boys could impregnate at 14 or 16. I was not agreeing with the part about girls today being immatture. But you have to agree man hating feminists on TV today are just as bad as women hating men.

October 03 2011 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

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