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Archive for the ‘Gen Yner’ Category

What My Father(s) Taught Me About Success

Posted by knbarrett on June 18, 2011

It was 1992 and I was at Kidsville, a playground in Duncanville, TX. I twirled around in the tire swing and watched parents catch their children at the foot of the slide, assist them across the monkey bars, and play chase around the park. The playground was full of mothers; fathers were in shorter supply. It was the fathers and daughters that caught my attention. There was something special about the interactions between father and daughter – the smiles and laughs were somehow different from that of a mother and daughter.  I distinctly remember feeling sorry for mothers; they would never share the same type of bond with their daughters. At nine, I sensed the importance of the father-daughter relationship.

Research supports my childhood observations. According to Nielsen’s research “Fathers generally have as much or more influence than mothers on many aspects of their daughters’ lives . . . well-fathered daughters are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly-fathered daughters.” Fathers help daughters develop a sense of place in this world.

Who I am and how I view the world has been profoundly shaped by my Papa and the men who have played father-like roles in my life (Great-Grandpa Kenyon, Gramps, Uncle John, Uncle Chris, Uncle Scott and Uncle Jeremy). They have influenced not only my professional pursuits but also how I perceive success in the workplace.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for new definitions of career success because societal definitions of success impact workplace policies and practices. Through my father figures I’ve learned three important lessons for becoming a successful woman.

Lesson 1: Action not Accolades

My Nana once told me that Gramps sometimes refers to me as “The Empress of the Western Hemisphere.” Knowing that my Gramps, even in jest, pictures me as a ruler fills me with great delight. Within the confines of my family, I have never felt that my gender was a hindrance for leadership positions. While I often struggle with equating success with positions of authority, the men in my life have often encouraged me to see past a person’s title and look at their actions.

At six, my Uncle Jeremy and I had a serious talk about the presidency. I wanted to know two things: what I had to do to become the President of the United State and what earnings I could expect as President of the United States. My uncle patiently discussed the presidential office. He never discouraged me from seeking office, but I remember him encouraging me to think beyond the title and paycheck – what would I do as President?

There is this illusive draw to being at the top. It signals that we as women have arrived. In my mind it says “Take that” to every ignorant man who ever made a sexist joke about how I was destined for a life of domesticity. Yet, in my short career tenure, I’ve learned and re-learned through my father figures that I want my career to be measured by impacts (how my actions affected people and causes) instead of outputs (# of reports written) or outcomes (awards and titles of distinction). It’s about using whatever sphere of influence I have in whatever position I hold and harnessing it toward good.

Lesson 2: Sacrifice over Self-Indulgence

In a recent New York Times op-ed column, David Brooks wrote about how adulthood isn’t about finding one’s passion or charting one’s own path. He argues instead that “A successful adult makes sacred commitments to a spouse, a community and calling.” My father figures have showed me that a successful life is marked by sacrifice.

I’ve watched the men in my life make career sacrifices for their families. I’ve learned from them that men and women alike are responsible for the health and well-being of their families. There is this perception that only women make tough choices when it comes to balancing career, family and community responsibilities. But, I’m not sure that’s true. My own husband has passed up opportunities offering greater pay and prestige because he is committed to playing an active role in our daughter’s life. And, a recent study by Boston College Center for Work & Family on fathers and work “presents a portrait of fathers who strive for professional growth as they also strive for equality in their home life.”

Putting others before career ambition is not something that women alone face. Watching men make these sacrifices has made it a little easier for me to accept the trade-offs involved in having a career and family. Knowing that these men experience the tension and conflict of living a life that includes family, work and community responsibilities makes me feel less alone. It also makes me all the more passionate about my research on workplace policies and practices that fit the realities of today’s workforce.

Lesson 3: Daily Choices Matter Most

Papa asks my sisters and me one question whenever we talk: “Are you winning the day?” It is a question that we roll our eyes at and mock from time to time. But, it’s a useful question. It helps me refocus my time and energy. The question helps me take a deep breath when I feel anxious about not reaching my full potential or leaving accomplishments unchecked. As someone who likes to develop five year plans, it’s easy to get so distracted by the pursuit of success that I forget about the importance of “winning the day” – being a dedicated mother, dependable friend and diligent worker.

The question reminds me that my own life has been shaped by men who have included me in their days- challenging my thinking and exposing me to new ideas (thank you, Uncle Jeremy and Uncle Scott); bailing me out when my car broke down and I was out of money (thank you, Uncle John); taking a day to drive down and spend time with me (thank you, Uncle Chris); sharing life lessons and experiences (thank you, Gramps);  walking through the tough times (thank you, Papa); being my best friend (thank you, Peter).

Success is not so much an end destination but the byproduct of our daily choices and decisions. In the words of Mumford & Sons, “In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die/Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” Thank you Papa, Gramps, Uncles and Peter for the love you have invested in my life.

Posted in Career Advancement, Families, Feminism, Gen Y, Gen Yner, girls, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gen Y: Just another Label?

Posted by knbarrett on June 9, 2011

My youngest sister is a psychology major. During the course of her studies, I’ve learned a lot about the potential harms of labeling. I’ve learned to talk about people as having disabilities and not being disabled. A child with high functioning autism, for example, who is labeled “autistic”, often feels pigeonholed. Yes, they have an intellectual disability, but they are more than that disability.  It is just one part of them, it doesn’t define them. Our talks about the potential pitfalls of labels have caused me to think about the term “Gen Y” and the extent to which it is helpful or harmful.

BPW Foundation is currently conducting a national survey on Generation Y (born 1978-1994) women in the workplace. We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of interest in the survey, but it has not been met with the same level of response to the survey. I have a couple theories about the response rate brewing in my head.

Today’s theory is this. . . the term Gen Y is problematical. Using the term Gen Y, which does not have a universal meaning or understanding, may in fact be driving young women away from the survey.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had lots of informal discussions with young women about the term Gen Y. Here are the three most common reactions:

Don’t call me that!

At a recent dinner, one of my friends asked me how the survey was going and told me that she was sorry she couldn’t help me by taking the survey. When I told her that, as a 30 year old woman, she fit the age requirement for Gen Y she exclaimed, “You’re telling me that I’m Gen Y. No way. I’m not whiney and entitled. I don’t care if I technically fit into the category. I don’t want to be Gen Y. Being labeled Gen Y is downright offensive.”

The media’s portrayal of Gen Y is often negative. It’s not hard to believe that women, like my friend, would want to disassociate themselves from stereotypes such as being a lazy, spoiled and entitled. The cards are often stacked against us – we’re young and we’re women- and now you want to load us down with something else. No, thank you.

Yes, yes. That’s me!

While some reject the term, others embrace their Gen Y-ness. Far from being slam, to these women Gen Y is a label they wear with pride. Bloggers like Elysa of GenPink, Amanda of Grad Meets World and Grace of Small Hands, Big Ideas reject the hysteria about Gen Y and provide nuance and insight into generational differences.

A recent Grad Meets World post – Gen Y Manifesto – best encapsulates this category of women. Amanda discusses the psychological and professional dilemmas associated with being part of the Y Generation – not only do people belittle Gen Y’s pursuit of meaningful work but Gen Y are also faced with tough economic times for finding meaningful work. She is unapologetic about the ways in which Gen Y is different from previous generations and vows to follow her dreams, live life to the fullest, and make a difference.

Say what?

My all time favorite reaction to Gen Y was, “Is that medical term?” It’s easy as a researcher to get so consumed in a particular body of literature that you forget the books and articles you read are not necessarily at the top of everyone’s reading list. It’s easy to assume that because a discussion about Gen Y exists that it is relevant and interesting to all individuals who fit the bill. I wonder, though, how many women born between the years 1978 and 1994:

1) Know that they belong to Gen Y

2) Self-identify as Gen Y and

3) Reflect on how their generational membership affects their workplace experiences and expectations.

Regardless of your perspective on the term, Gen Y, if you are a woman born between 1978 and 1994, BPW Foundation wants to better understand what you need in order to be successful in the workplace. The information we collect through the national survey will be translated into tools that improve the way employers recruit, support and retain young women in the workplace.

The survey will remain active until June 30th. Each participant who completes the survey will be entered to win a $75 Amazon gift card.

Feel free to forward the survey link to young women you know (born between 1978-1994):


Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Gen Yner, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ambition: The Key to Closing the Gender Gap (Really?)

Posted by knbarrett on June 3, 2011

“We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap,” said Sheryl Sandberg in her commencement address at Barnard College.  Sandberg highlighted the gender segmentation across leadership categories.  From heads of state to the board room – women are under-represented in positions of leadership. In her speech, Sandberg called on young women to “think big” and take up leadership positions because, “leadership belongs to those who take it.” She argued that far too many women make career decisions based on future family responsibilities – e.g. medical student who chooses a less demanding specialization. Instead of “leaning back” from a career before it’s even started, Sandberg urged to women to “lean in” to their careers – full speed ahead. She concluded by telling the graduates of her hope that they would all leave with aspirations of running the world because, “Women all around the world are counting on you.”

The speech left me feeling oddly disturbed instead of inspired. There was something troubling about pinning women’s under-representation in leadership roles to their collective lack of ambition.  Not only is the argument uncritical of the external factors that shape women’s economic outcomes, but it is also uncritical of current definitions surrounding success and ambition.

First, Sandberg’s speech contains overtones of Girl Power. Just believe in yourself – the sky is the limit. Embrace your awesomeness. The problem with the message of Girl Power is that women’s outcomes are linked to their individual ambition and choices.  Social norms, practices and institutions that shape the economic opportunities available to men and women are overlooked. By focusing on the self, gender discrimination becomes a personal obstacle to overcome rather than a societal issue rooted in structural inequalities that must be removed. It’s far easier when it’s an individual issue, right? It means that we no longer need feminism.  We no longer need to belong to a movement that works to identify and address gender-based constraints in the workplace. We no longer need to care about how workplace policies and practices affect men and women differently. Girl Power suggests that all I need to do is show the world that I am a strong, strong woman.

Second, Sandberg’s admonitions are uncritical of current definitions of success and ambition. She seems to define both words using masculine norms – reaching the top. Could it be that we, as a society, need to rethink how we define success? In David Brooks’ recent  op-ed “ It’s Not About You” he argues that the expressions of individualism found in so many commencement speeches – find your passion, chart your own path – do a disservice to graduates. Adulthood isn’t about finding yourself or finding your passion. Instead, “A successful adult makes sacred commitments to a spouse, a community and calling.” The current workplace, however, continues to idealize a worker who is solely devoted to the job.

As a good friend posited, “Could it be that women have it right? They often make intentional choices to live a life that includes work, family and community responsibilities.” As a society, shouldn’t we be more concerned about men’s unchecked ambition? Should men really get a pass on family and community responsibilities because they were pursuing their dreams?  Our country has the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world. These policies are not just women’s issues. They are workforce issues. Masculine norms that lead to discriminating and inflexible work environments are disadvantageous to men as well as women. Addressing differential workplace outcomes for men and women requires a larger social push to examine and redefine the notion of success in the workplace.

The percentage of leadership positions held by women is a key index used to measure gender equality. If we are really concerned about closing the gender achievement gap, we will have to do more than address the ambition gap.

We want to know your thoughts on ambition, success and the workplace. If you are Generation Y woman (born 1978-1994), please consider participating in our national survey on workplace issues. Each participant who completes the survey will be entered to win a $75 gift card.

Posted in Career Advancement, Education, Feminism, Gen Y, Gen Yner, girls, Lifestyle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Gen Y Women Workplace Survey Deadline Extended to June 30th

Posted by knbarrett on June 1, 2011

BPW Foundation would like to thank the many women who have completed the Gen Y Women in the Workplace survey and announce an extension of the survey’s deadline for those who have not yet had an opportunity to participate.

More than 480 Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women have already taken the survey but we want to hear from more of you. Your responses will help BPW Foundation develop tools that will assist employers recruit, support and retain young women like yourself. BPW Foundation is committed to working with women and employers to transform the workplace.

In order to provide additional opportunities to those who would like to complete a survey, the following link will be operational until Thursday, June 30th.


We appreciate you taking time to participate in this survey and want to add an incentive to complete it. All survey participants, who provide their email address, will be entered in a drawing for a $75 Amazon gift card. (You must complete the entire survey to be entered in the drawing.) Those who have already taken the survey and provided their e-mail are automatically entered.  The winner of the gift card will be announced on Friday, July 1st.

Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Gen Yner, Research, Worklife Balance | Leave a Comment »

Wanna Problem Swap?

Posted by knbarrett on May 27, 2011

Have you ever noticed that it’s far easier to solve other people’s problems than your own? I actually take great delight in putting together plans for friends and colleagues. But, when it comes to my own life. . . I’m a complete mess.

It turns out my experience is consistent with recent psychological research. Studies reveal that people can achieve greater mental novelty when thinking on behalf of others.

Polman and Emich found that, “When we think of situations or individuals that are distant – in space, time, or social connection – we think of them in the abstract. But when those things are close – near us physically, about to happen, or standing beside us – we think about them concretely.”

According to Daniel Pink, this has important implications for solving problems in the workplace. He suggests the following:

  1. Disassociate yourself: Rather than focusing more intensely on a decision or problem, we often need to take a step back so that we can widen our view. Abstract thinking leads to greater creativity.
  2. Harness the power of peers. Exchanging ideas with peers can offer solutions from new perspectives. According to Joel Marc, Generation Y (born 1978-1994) is especially adept at this strategy. He suggests that one of Gen Y’s strengths is reaching out to their networks to solve problems quickly.
  3. Find a problem-swapping partner. Personally, I’ve found this tip to be very beneficial. I have a friend and colleague that I regularly toss my problems to. And, she in return throws hers to me.

You may be wondering where I’m going with all of this. Besides the fact that I’m a huge fan of all things Daniel Pink, I’m trying to put these principles into practice.

Over the last few weeks, BPW Foundation has been promoting our national survey on Gen Y Women in the Workplace. The purpose of the survey is to understand what Gen Y women need in order to be successful in the workplace and then translate that knowledge into tools that improve how employers recruit, support and retain young women. We’ve been astounded by the level of interest that the survey has received. Unfortunately, that interest level has not matched the response rate. Don’t get me wrong, Gen Y Women are definitely responding. We just haven’t met our target yet.

So, instead of fixating on my present research dilemma as I’m prone to do, I’m trying to create some distance. And, I’m writing to ask you, as peers from different backgrounds, fields and industries for your thoughts and suggestions on how we can better promote our survey. And, if anyone wants to be my problem-solving partner, I’d be happy to tackle one of your problems in exchange for this one.

Please email your comments and suggestions to youngcareerist@bpwfoundation.org.

To allow for time for peer and partner problem-solving, we’ve decided to extend the deadline for the survey. The Gen Y Women in the Workplace survey will remain active until June 30th at midnight EDT.

Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Gen Yner, multigenerational, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two Identities Too Many?

Posted by danielleac on May 26, 2011

I am a veteran. A female one, at that.

Not that I’ve ever considered it a strike against me, but it is a tag that is quickly becoming associated with numerous negative connotations due to the current barrage of media portraying women veterans as hot messes. Transitioning out of the military was a bit hard – after earning the respect and camaraderie of my fellow soldiers (mostly men), I found that when I exited the service, the civilian boy’s club barred the door, and civilian women didn’t quite know what to say to a woman who could hit center mass from a couple of hundred yards with a big gun. (Most of them probably didn’t know what “center mass” meant..) And, yes, I carry a couple of scars, figuratively and literally, that I didn’t claim before I entered the military. But, I’m not broken, nor are most of the women vets I know – we take multi-tasking to a new dimension, we never give up, and we just won’t stop until we’ve surpassed our goals.

I am a Gen Y er. Thirty. College degree. Married. Couple of kids.

The civilian workplace surprised me by boxing me into yet another category: Gen Y (born between ’78 and ’94). It took me some time to understand why this was a negative, as Gen Yers are known to be speedy workers who complete tasks and move on, individuals who appreciate hard work and hard play, and surprisingly, intrinsically motivated to finding the answers to life and work using every tool at their technologically-advanced fingertips . It is a strike, though, since change is hard, and the way of the younger generation does not match up with status quo.

So, what’s the bigger problem?

The snowball , in my opinion, is that there are too many of us. Too many misunderstood veterans, too many barely-launched Gen Yers that don’t know where to start to get what they want (or don’t have the patience to wait for it), and way too many employers who realize they need us to replace the ever-aging Baby Boomers, but don’t know how to harness the initiative and committed nature of either sub-population.

Here’s where you come in, Gen Y Women: Help BPW Foundation continue pursuing the creation of Empowered Workforces and Successful Workplaces by telling us what you think by taking this Gen Y survey.

We promise not to stop researching and working on your behalf, our history as the first Foundation to tackle women’s workplace issues stands behind us as proof that we mean what we say.

Posted in Diversity, Gen Y, Gen Yner, multigenerational, Successful Workplaces, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Gen Y Women: Do You Want to be Paid for Results?

Posted by knbarrett on May 18, 2011

I was recently asked, “Why would you want to be paid for results when you could be paid to just show up?” The person had read the new BPW Foundation report Gen Y Women in the Workplace and questioned the assertion that Gen Y women want to be evaluated based on the work they produce not the number of hours they sit at their desk. The question struck me as odd. My initial response was why wouldn’t you want to be paid for outputs over inputs?

The more I mulled it over, though, the more I understood the person’s point. There are days when I would like to show up at an office and be paid regardless of whether or not I actually accomplish anything. More often than not those are the days when my 16 month old daughter is acting like she’s already entered the terrible twos and retreating to a physical office space outside of my home where I’m expected to sit quietly for eight solid hours seems zen-like. There are days when I feel uninspired and I wish I had clients who would just pay me to “be.”

But if I’m honest with myself, my greatest sense of satisfaction comes through achievement – accomplishing a goal. There’s nothing like taking on a new research activity, developing the methodology, conducting the research and then translating the results into a product. Simply showing up at an office doesn’t do anything for me. It’s all about the work itself.

And that’s just it. To understand why Gen Y women want to be evaluated on performance over presence, you have to look at their perspectives on work. If work is simply about picking up a paycheck or putting in time then it makes perfect sense to want to be paid for “showing up.” But if work is something more to you . . . if it’s about making a difference then is really so hard to believe that a timesheet seems a rather ineffectual means of measurement?

How about you, what do you value in the workplace? If you are a Gen Y woman (born 1978-1994), BPW Foundation wants to better understand your perspectives on work and workplace success.

  • What is your view of work?
  • What work values are most important to you?
  • What motivates you to produce results at work?
  • What factors enable you to do your best at work?

Please share your thoughts and experiences by taking our online survey. The survey will remain open until Tuesday, May 31st at midnight. Don’t miss the chance to let your voice be heard!

Posted in Gen Y, Gen Yner, Research, Successful Workplaces | Leave a Comment »

Gen Y Women: Is Your Workplace Gender Equitable?

Posted by knbarrett on May 17, 2011

“They offered you what???” The voices in my head competed for the tone with which to deliver my question.  As my then fiancé excitedly shared the details of the compensation package he had just been offered, I could barely muster a “that’s great.” I should have been jumping up and down, right? That money would soon be flowing into our joint bank account. Instead, I was furious.

You see, my fiancé and I graduated from the same school with the same major. After graduation, we entered the same industry and were hired for same type of position.  There was one big difference . . . our starting salaries. I was offered 29 percent less than him.  Unfortunately, my experience is not so different from other Gen Y women. A recent study found that the average starting salary of a new female college graduate is 17 percent lower that her male counterpart.

Pay inequity is just one form of gender discrimination. Research on gender in the workplace consistently indicates that gender is an accurate predictor of occupation, pay and career progress. Further, men and women are often treated differently at work even when formal employment barriers are removed.

As a Gen Y woman, I want to believe that gender discrimination is on the decline. However, my workplace expectations often do not match my workplace experiences. When this happens, I struggle with feeling “whiny” for pointing out gender bias. After all, my experience is so much better than that of my mother or grandmother at my age. The bias may be different but it’s no less real. Just because the workplace is getting better, it doesn’t mean that the workplace is gender neutral much less equitable. I’ve learned that one of the most important steps in addressing gender inequities is indentifying them and understanding their underlying factors.

How about you, how has gender affected your workplace experiences and opportunities? If you are a Gen Y woman (born 1978-1994), BPW Foundation wants to better understand your perspectives on gender in the workplace.

  • How important is gender equity in the workplace to you?
  • To what extent is gender discrimination a problem in today’s workplace?
  • Based on your experience and observations, what are the most prevalent forms of discrimination facing women in the workplace?
  • What can employers do to promote a more gender equitable workplace?

Please share your thoughts and experiences by taking our online survey. The survey will remain open until Tuesday, May 31st at midnight. Don’t miss the chance to let your voice be heard!

Posted in Equal Pay, Gen Y, Gen Yner, Pay Equity, Research, Uncategorized, Wage Gap | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Feminism, Gen Y, Gen Yner, multigenerational, Successful Workplaces | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gen Y Women: Does this sound like you?

Posted by knbarrett on April 26, 2011

Over the last year, we have benefited from and appreciated expressions of interest by Gen Y women in BPW Foundation’s Young Careerist Research Project. Thank you to everyone who has provided us with information and feedback. The result of our last round of research is the new BPW Foundation publication – “Gen Y Women in the Workplace.”

The report summarizes key findings from a series of employer-based focus groups conducted with Gen Y women and their managers. Through the focus groups, we sought to move beyond stereotypes on Gen Y and better understand your workplace needs and priorities.

We know that our sample was limited and may not reflect the broader population of Gen Y women. So, here is your chance to tell us what we got right and what we got wrong. Here are the top 20 characteristics of Gen Y women based on our report. Does this sound like you?

Gen Y Women : Top 20 Characteristics

1. You’re tired of the “live to work/work to live” debate. You have one life and work is an integral part of that life.

2. You assume that work does not have to be drudgery. In fact, you expect to enjoy your work.

3. You believe that having a successful career means making an impact.

4. You don’t want to have to forfeit or neglect other areas of your life (e.g. family, friends, hobbies, volunteering, spirituality, etc.) to excel professionally.

5. You’re looking less for a particular work-life policy or program and more for an overhaul of the workplace structure – today’s workplace should match today’s workforce!

6. You feel that work-life programs and policies are often limited to women with children.

7. You feel that existing work-life programs and tools do not necessarily provide an enabling environment for women with children.

8. You value self-direction, results-orientation, and advancement opportunities.

9. You are driven more by intrinsic rewards (sense of satisfaction) than by extrinsic rewards (money).

10. You are able to do your best at work when you: know what’s expected of you, have autonomy over your work, receive frequent performance feedback, have open communication channels with your manager and co-workers, know that your voice is heard, and receive competitive compensation.

11. You’ve observed generational differences at work but don’t believe that they are insurmountable.

12. You often feel that your actions and decisions are doubly judged. Not only are you young, but you are a young woman.

13. You appreciated older colleagues for their: professional experience, institutional knowledge, and broader perspective.

14. You feel that Gen Y women can teach older colleagues how to be: flexible, open to new ideas, and embrace change.

15. You don’t always know how to capitalize on the experiences and knowledge of older colleagues.

16.  You are optimistic about your workplace prospects, but don’t consider the workplace to be gender neutral.

17. You believe that you can do anything, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have to overcome some hurdles because you are a woman.

18. You experience performance pressure in the workplace. If you want to gain recognition, you feel you have to be a “rock star.”

19. You are frustrated and worried that you may have to choose between work and family in the future.

20. You feel that women have been welcomed into the workplace, but the structure and rules haven’t changed to facilitate their success in the workplace.

So. . . how did we do? Of the 20, how many did we get right? Let us know. Leave a comment or email youngcareerist@bpwfoundation.org.

We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface on workplace issues of importance to Gen Y women. That’s why we want to corroborate and build upon our preliminary findings through a national survey on Gen Y women in the workplace. Stay tuned to learn more about how you can participate!

Posted in Gen Y, Gen Yner, multigenerational, Research, Successful Workplaces, Workforce Development/HR, Worklife Balance | Tagged: | 2 Comments »