In a startling reversal, more young women than young men now rank a high-paying career as one of their life priorities, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. Sixty-six percent of women ages 18 to 34 said a well-compensated career was "one of the most important things" or "very important," compared to 59 percent of their male peers.
Not only are young women more ambitious than young men, they're more ambitious than anyone has been in the last 15 years.
In 1997, young men placed a high-paying career higher-up on the life list than women, at 58 percent to 56 percent, but neither of them come close to the drive of young women today.
For Love Of Money
"You could argue that money is more important for men," said Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman, after the state's equal pay law was quietly repealed last week. "I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious."
You could argue that, perhaps, if you're looking just at Grothman's generation.
Fifteen years ago, 41 percent of middle-age men felt that a big bucks job was very or very, very important, but only 26 percent of women faced the same. These days, this age group is in almost dead heat, at 43 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
But young people today are more money-focused than generations past, and less concerned with community, charity and politics, according to a recent study, which analyzed 9 million young adults over four decades. The Pew numbers agree: Young men are a little more salary-driven than their fathers, but young women out-strive everyone they know.
The Coming Matriarchy
Young women today certainly care about education more than their moms or dads or male peers. Last year, 50 percent more women than men graduated from college, and women now earn 60 percent of master's degrees. They seem to get their value. Half of the female graduates surveyed by the Pew Research Center considered the price of their diplomas money well spent, while only 37 percent of men agree.
Are women really set to dominate in our postmodern, postindustrial knowledge economy, as Hanna Rosin suggested in The Atlantic? An economy that prizes social intelligence, communication skills, and extended focus over muscle density and the ability to stomach five martinis over lunch? Are women really going to be "the richer sex," as Liza Mundy posits in her recent book? Paying the bills, marrying down and liberating both sexes in the process?
For Love Of Family
Maybe, but you can always count on babies to get in the way. Women still give birth, and still care for those babies more than fathers, which tips the playing field ever-so-slightly in men's favor. At least when the goal is a high-rolling career that doesn't like you coming in late on the days when your baby has a strange rash.
And young women today have no desire to ditch family life on the road to success. In fact, more young women say marriage is "one of the most important things" in their lives than 15 years ago, according to the Pew study, 37 percent to 28 percent. And men aren't forgoing the high-paying career for a more fulfilling partnership. 27 percent of men ranked marriage at the top of their priority list, compared to 35 percent 15 years ago.
But if young women today manage to tackle the old work-family balance, then maybe they will be able to smash that glass ceiling, take over the board rooms, storm the Capitol, take command of the Federal Reserve, manipulate monetary policy, cause the price of groceries go up, and leave millions of stay-at-home fathers grumbling at the check-out.
In which case, young men, nostalgic for a simpler time, can take some solace. According to the most recent cover of Newsweek at least, the more success women gain in their careers, the more they want to be submissive in the bedroom.
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