BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Attitudes and Perspectives of Gen Y Women

Posted by YWM on April 28, 2011

Gen Y Will be Revolutionizing the Workplace

Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation  has released a new report,  Gen Y Women in the Workplace, that explores Generation Y women’s workplace attitudes, perspectives on intergenerational workplace dynamics, and perceptions of how gender impacts their workplace experiences. The report also includes recommendations to help employers attract and support Gen Y women employees.

“In order for businesses to engage successfully with the workforce of tomorrow, it is imperative that they understand Gen Y – what challenges them, what inspires them, what motivates them,” said Deborah L. Frett, BPW Foundation CEO.  
 
By 2025, Generation Y (born 1978-1994) will comprise nearly 75 percent of the world’s workforce. Their familiarity and expertise with technology, coupled with their multicultural perspectives and their insatiable desire for making a difference, poise Gen Y to revolutionize the workplace.  Assuming that current trends continue, by 2025 women will make up at least 50 percent of the U.S.workforce. 

“BPW Foundation’s Young Careerist (YC) research has focused on the career choices and challenges of Generation Y women.  Our research provides employers andpolicymakers with important insights on the needs and challenges of key groups of working women with a variety of skills, education and training,” explained Dr. Sheila Barry-Oliver, Chair of the BPW Research and Education Committee that oversaw the research. 

 Over the last year, BPW Foundation conducted three employer-based focus groups. The participants included not only Gen Y women, but also managers of Gen Y employees, in order to highlight both employee and employer perspectives.

Findings included:

  • Gen Y women recognize work as a key component in the framework of their lives. Work life has a critical impact on all other areas of life.
  • Gen Y women assume that work will be rewarding and interesting, rather than drudgery. In fact, Gen Y women expect to enjoy their work.
  • Gen Y women are concerned about the impact a family will have on their careers.  Gen Y women perceive gender differences in terms of long-term career and family/childcare decisions.
  • Gen Y women want to be evaluated based on their productivity and the quality of the work they produce, not the number of hours they sit at their desks.

Gen Y women’s basic assumptions about work affect how they evaluate job opportunities. While salary and benefits (e.g. health insurance, educational benefits, and skills development) are  important, Gen Y women also consider the following questions before accepting a job offer:

  • Does the work have meaning/purpose?
  • Will I enjoy the work?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • Will the work environment facilitate work-life balance?

The three most important employer characteristics Gen Y women seek when looking for a job are:

  1. Opportunity  for employees to self-manage
  2. Emphasis on meeting goals, as opposed to how, when or where people do the work
  3. Availability of and focus on career advancement opportunities

This research was conducted by BPW Foundation, with funding from the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant. In 2008, BPW Foundation released “Critical Career Junctures that Direct the Career Life-Cycle of Young Careerists,” an issue brief that provided key data for employers seeking to engage Gen Y women.  The next phase of the research will include a national survey of Gen Y women to corroborate and build upon current findings. To learn more, please e-mail youngcareerist@bpwfoundation.org.

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