Young Women Don’t Want To Be CEOs

female ceo

Continuing our recent theme of millennials in the workplace, a new study from Zeno Group found that millennial women have little to no desire to assume a top leadership position at work.

According to Chad Brooks at Business News Daily,

Specifically, just 15 percent of women between ages 21 and 33 would want to be the No. 1 leader of a large or prominent organization, the study by public relations firm Zeno Group found.

He continued:

An overriding theme among millennial women in the survey was an unwillingness to make the personal sacrifices they believe are linked to their ability to climb the corporate ladder.  Nearly half of those surveyed think the sacrifices women leaders have to make aren’t worth it, and 9 in 10 agree that women leaders have to make more sacrifices than their male counterparts.

The results of this study don’t particularly surprise me, especially after reading Emily Matchar‘s book Homeward Bound, which details why some younger women are dissatisfied with the workplace and choose to pursue part-time work, creative outlets and domesticity rather than climb the corporate ladder. Does that mean we’ll have no female CEOs or COOs by 2050? I doubt it. Still, Barby Siegel, head of the Zeno Group, had some interesting insight:

“We need to think about doing things differently when helping millennial women develop their careers and weigh the sacrifices that may or may not be required. We do not want to risk losing this talented generation of professionals. The findings send a clear signal that we cannot operate business as usual. We don’t want W-O-R-K becoming the new four-letter word for this generation.”

Although I think it’s a little reactionary to speculate that millennials see work as a “four-letter word,” Siegel has a point when she says we need to do things differently. What we’re seeing with the information from this study is a cultural shift, evidence that women (and men, too!) aren’t willing to sacrifice their happiness and personal life to excel in a workplace setting. Women today want jobs that will allow them to balance their lives in a way that feels meaningful and fulfilling. Whether that includes working from home (ahem, Marissa Mayer), in-office daycare, flex time, coworking, covacationing, increased maternity leave or jobsharing will be different for different women, different jobs, and different employers.

What we need is a real transformation of the current workcentric culture in the United States. Sure, we’re a country founded on an immigrant work ethic and that bootstrapism (like that word I just made up?) is likely at the root of why work holds such a central place of importance in our national imagination. But it’s clear that an attitude change is afoot, at least among those of us younger women who want to actually have lives along with our jobs.

Hopefully, the results from this study and others like it will help our country breed a work culture that’s flexible and supportive, rather than one that pushes those that can’t or won’t conform out of the workplace entirely.

Photo: Shutterstock

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