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It is a gap further exacerbated by the diversity of women and their lived experiences. That discussion also has given rise to an important parallel conversation about who American women are, who speaks in their name, and whose perspectives and experiences dominate their storyline.
Structural change requires collective action. But women cannot come together for a cause that does not feel inclusive. Generational researchers usually divide different groups of living Americans into cohorts that share key attitudes and orientations and that had common historical experiences in their formative years.
The recent American generations break along these lines: the Silent Generation, those born between and ; the Baby Boomers, those born between and ;Generation X, those born between Single milfs Independence ; and Millennials, those born starting in The span of years that provide definition to distinct generational groupings are, of course, made-up constructs, and demographers, political scientists, and marketers may delineate them in different ways. In the interest of consistency with most published sources, this brief follows the definitions used by the Pew Research Center. It is worth noting that there is some disagreement among generational chroniclers as to whether the Millennial generation has an endpoint and if so, when; there also is some disagreement on whether the point of delineation between the Baby Boomers and Generation X should be or The women of Generation X and Millennial women inherited a very different world than those of the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, who were born in an era in which many unmarried women could not access contraception, abortion was illegal, and married women had to ask their husbands for permission to take a job.
The landscape of possibility for women began to change dramatically in the latter decades of the 20th century as women made enormous gains in educational achievement and professional advancement, narrowing the gender gap in pay and making real inro into many professions that traditionally had been closed to them.
Yet despite their very different beginnings, all these generations of women now face a similarly sobering reality:.
Many women of different age groups also share a common feeling of disappointment over the disconnect between their hopes for gender equality and the realities of their lives:. There are deep reasons underlying a pervasive feeling of division among different generations of women. Growing up, coming of age, and navigating the world of work and family at different points in recent American history have had a of very real effects. To make the point: In an increasingly diverse United States, such a blinkered adherence to a storyline that leaves out the lives of such a great of women is not just offensive; for a movement, it also is a recipe for irrelevance.
Millennials are the most diverse American generation in history: Inonly 57 percent of those ages 18 to 33 were non-Hispanic whites, down from 84 percent when members of the Silent Generation were the same age. Women of the Silent Generation and female Baby Boomers lived through an explosion of possibility for women. They also, for the most part, came of age in an extended period of postwar American economic growth and opportunity.
Tail-end Boomer, Generation X, and Millennial women, on the other hand, moved into adulthood at times of much greater economic difficulty, far more constricted job choices, considerably higher basic living expenses for families, and an ambient sense of anxiety about the future. Some Baby Boomers also entered the labor market during a recession— to —but the economy recovered more quickly than it has in more recent recessions. Moreover, Generation X was the first generation of college graduates to earn less than its immediate predecessors, and by the end of the s, it had been labeled as potentially the first generation whose lifetime earnings would add up to be less than those of their parents.
Saddled with credit card and student-loan debt, they went on to lose nearly half their collective wealth between and Many Millennials came of age during the Great Recession and launched their careers at a time of enormous job scarcity. Even more heavily burdened with student-loan debt than were members of Generation X at the same age, they also are on track to be less well off than their parents. For instance, women of higher socioeconomic backgrounds marry and bear children later, while women of lower socioeconomic backgrounds have children early and are increasingly supporting those children as single mothers.
In truth, that scenario is unrealistic for most women today, who increasingly find themselves fighting to stay afloat amid flat wages and a rising cost of living. Generation X has long been known as being less centered on work and more concerned with quality-of-life issues than its Baby Boomer elders—an orientation that, early on, earned Generation Xers a reputation first as slackers and later as want-it-all whiners—both ultimately undeserved labels.
Millennial women, however, appear to have taken this wariness of work to a higher level, in some unique and curious ways. Sociologist Pamela Stone has found a particularly striking fealty to the culture of long hours and single-minded career dedication among younger Baby Boomers and older members of Generation X.
That loyalty, she and co-author Lisa Ackerly Hernandez noted with some surprise in a Journal of Social Issues article, strongly endured even among women who were essentially pushed out of their workplaces due to the stigma they experienced from making use of flexible work arrangements to care for their families. In fact, they accept the legitimacy of professional time norms, and tend to view their treatment as fair and justifiable. Of all the generations now active in American society, Millennials are the least likely to have grown up in households with a working father and a stay-at-home mother.
They are the group Single milfs Independence likely to have had mothers who earned as much as or more than fathers, and—in a survey of more than 2, men and women ages 18 to 64 conducted by Working Mother magazine—were the age group Single milfs Independence likely to say that a working mother sets a positive example for her children.
And yet according to this same survey, Millennials were also the group most likely to agree with the idea that one parent should be home to care for children. They were the group most likely to say that they were proud of their mothers for working and also to say that they wished their mothers had stayed home with them.
As the most technology-savvy and technology-acculturated cohort, they also know the downsides of a device-tethered life. Ina Pew Research Center poll found that Millennial working mothers were more likely than working mothers overall to say that being a parent makes it harder to advance in their career.
In recent decades, however, their lived experiences—in work, at home, and even in rates of military service —have greatly converged. Surveys have found that as their lives have become more similar, men and women also have become much more alike in their aspirations and values regarding work, ambition, and success. Recent Pew polling showed that agreement with the idea that women in high political offices are better than men at working out compromises decreased with age among women respondents; half of women from the Silent Generation, less than half of Baby Boomer women, 37 percent of Generation X women, and 33 percent of Millennial women agreed.
The generation gap holds up for views of women in business leadership as well.
Pew found that fully 40 percent of Baby Boomer women stood by the belief that female business leaders were more honest and ethical than male leaders, while only 31 percent of both Millennial and Generation X women shared that sentiment. Millennials—both men and women—tend to support a more activist government than the generations before them and appear to have high expectations regarding their own abilities to demand and achieve better lives. In one fascinating Pew survey finding, Millennial women proved to be almost equally as likely as female Generation Xers and Baby Boomer women to have asked for a better job or higher salary, despite their younger age and fewer years of work experience.
Emily Baxter is a Research Associate at the Center. Milia Fisher is a former Research Associate at the Center. They would also like to thank Danielle Corley, Special Assistant at the Center, for her thoughtful research assistance. Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.
A note on generations The span of years that provide definition to distinct generational groupings are, of course, made-up constructs, and demographers, political scientists, and marketers may delineate them in different ways. The power of internalized work devotion Sociologist Pamela Stone has found a particularly striking fealty to the culture of long hours and single-minded career dedication among younger Baby Boomers and older members of Generation X.Single milfs Independence
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What older women wish they could tell their younger selves