We are almost there, but not quite.
That is the conclusion of a new report about Gender and the Workplace released today by the Pew Research Center. If the goal is parity between men and women at work, the good news is that Millennials -- those between the ages of 18 and 32 -- have closed the divide more than ever before. Women in that group now earn 93 cents for every dollar earned by men, the narrowest gender wage gap since measurement began. (The average wage gap across generations is 84 cents to every dollar.)
Other good news? Women in this age group are at least as focused as men on their careers and are somewhat more likely to have completed college. In addition, relatively few -- only 15 percent -- say that they believe they have been discriminated against personally at work.
But when asked about the future, Millennial women are wary. Seventy-five percent say the U.S. must continue to change if gender equality in the workplace is to be a reality (compared with 57 percent of Millennial men). Just over half of those women (51 percent) say that society favors men over women (when the question is asked of older age groups, 55 percent of women say the same). They are more likely than men to reject being “the boss or top manager” and they assume that should they choose to have children, that would limit their ability to get ahead at work.
Millennials believe these things because the only role models they have -- the women in the cohorts directly ahead of them -- experience these obstacles. The Pew Study polled 2,002 adults, of whom 810 were considered “Millennials,” while the others were across older age ranges. Of those, women with children under the age of 18 living at home spent less time at paid work (23 hours per week) than both women without children and than men with or without children.
Similarly, across age groups, mothers were three times more likely than fathers to say that “being a working parent made it harder for them to advance.” And despite all evidence pointing to a growing involvement of fathers in their children’s lives, this study found that while half of working mothers (51 percent) report taking “a significant amount of time off from work to care for a child or family member,” only 16 percent of working fathers say the same.
Millennials have declared that they hope to do things differently -- to find meaningful work that they enjoy, to value flexibility and impact over money, to look past gender and create balanced, equal lives. And yes, for the moment, they are well on their way, with women closer to parity than any previous generation. But over the past 30 years, other generations of women have also started out strong, then seen their prospects and wages fall over time when compared to men. What this data shows, then, is that today's women have gotten the best start in history, but there is still much obstacle-clearing left to be done.
Also on HuffPost:
An important part of achieving what we set out to do -- and something that seems to be particularly difficult for women -- is overcoming bumps in the road we may experience along the way. We forget that failure is often a necessary part of eventual success. In order to remind ourselves of this, we've gathered the stories of seven fearless women who experienced failure before ultimately becoming legends in their respective fields.
1. Lucille Ball
Lucile Ball is now remembered as the first woman to run a major television studio (she gained full control of <a href="http://tviv.org/Desilu_Productions" target="_blank">Desilu Productions</a> in 1962) and the winner of <a href="http://www.askdrrhonda.com/2011/08/lucille-ball-businesswoman-extraordinaire/" target="_blank">most every major </a>entertainment industry award (including 13 Emmy nominations and four wins), but her success was hardly immediate. In fact, Ball's first films were failures, and she was even dubbed the "<a href="http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3860.html" target="_blank">Queen of the 'B' Movies</a>" in the 1930s and 1940s. Luckily for all of us, Ball went on to star in "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043208/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">I Love Lucy</a>" and pave the way for women in the entertainment industry.
2. Marilyn Monroe
Though Marilyn Monroe became a successful actress (whose films grossed <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/marilyn-monroe-9412123" target="_hplink">more than $200 million</a>), her <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/leaming-marilyn.html" target="_hplink">first contract with Columbia Pictures expired in 1948 </a> before she had acted in a movie. Soon after, though, <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/the-man-behind-the-magic-johnny-hyde" target="_hplink">Monroe met agent Johnny Hyde</a>, who took her under his wing. Eventually she landed roles in "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042208/?ref_=sr_1" target="_hplink">The Asphalt Jungle</a>" and "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042192/?ref_=sr_1" target="_hplink">All About Eve</a>" and the rest is Hollywood history.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Before Oprah hosted a talk show that dominated daytime TV for 25 years and became the queen of her own media empire, she was demoted at one of her early jobs. After working as a news co-anchor on <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/sun-magazine/bs-sm-oprahs-baltimore-20110522,0,1545333,full.story" target="_hplink">Baltimore's WJZ-TV for seven and a half months</a> in her early twenties, Oprah was put on morning TV (the "morning cut-ins" as <a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/oprah-on-her-time-at-wjz-humiliated-embarrassed-and-sexually-harassed_b10378" target="_hplink">she recalls</a>) -- a significant step down from her original role. But the experience wasn't all bad: <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/sun-magazine/bs-sm-oprahs-baltimore-20110522,0,1545333,full.story" target="_hplink">Oprah met her best friend Gayle</a> while working in Baltimore, and her initial failure arguably launched her on her path to incredible career success.
4. Vera Wang
Vera Wang's path to becoming the insanely successful designer she is today was hardly conventional. First, Wang -- who was a competitive figure skater in her youth -- <a href="http://www.nypost.com/pagesixmag/issues/20100211/Vera+Wang+Ice#axzz2ZWIJM3ti" target="_hplink">failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team</a>. Thankfully for fashion fans, this failure prompted Wang to take a job as an assistant at Vogue in 1971, where she was <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/vera-wang-9542398" target="_hplink">promoted to senior fashion editor</a> within a year at 23. <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/vera-wang-9542398" target="_hplink">After 15 years with the magazine</a>, Wang was ultimately <a href="http://www.levoleague.com/articles/career-advice/vera-wang-career-lessons" target="_hplink">passed over for the editor-in-chief position</a>. But she ended up exactly where she needed to be and is now an incredibly <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/fashion/designers/vera-wang/" target="_hplink">successful and iconic fashion designer</a>. It's hard to even think of wedding attire without her name coming up.
5. Stephanie Meyer
Before the <em>Twilight</em> series broke <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-08-03-breaking-dawn-sales_N.htm" target="_hplink">sales records,</a> author Stephanie Meyer faced the failure of rejection -- multiple times. Meyer wrote 15 letters to literary agencies and <a href="http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/" target="_hplink">received 14 rejections</a>. Luckily, one literary agent took her on and <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20091019011138/http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6559505.html" target="_hplink">eight publishers bid</a> on the rights to publish the now wildly successful series which ultimately earned the author a place on the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/stephenie-meyer/" target="_hplink">2011 Forbes Celebrity 100 List</a> (and an ever-growing fortune to boot).
6. J.K. Rowling
The <em>Harry Potter</em> author's story is practically the stuff of legends. Rowling wrote <em>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</em> (the first book in the series) as a struggling single mother on welfare and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/05/16/publishers-who-got-it-wrong_n_1520190.html" target="_hplink">faced 12 rejections from publishers</a>, eventually <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/jk-rowling-40998" target="_hplink">selling the book for the equivalent of $4,000</a>. The series went on to <a href="http://www.jkrowling.com/en_US/#/works/the-books/" target="_hplink">break numerous sales records</a>, be turned into an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14183632" target="_hplink">incredibly successful</a> <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/?ref_=sr_2" target="_hplink">film series</a> and earn a permanent place in the hearts of children and adults all over the world. J.K. Rowling is now <a href="http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/authors/jk-rowling-net-worth/" target="_hplink">worth an estimated $1 billion</a>.
7. Arianna Huffington
Though Arianna Huffington is one of the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/arianna-huffington/" target="_hplink">most powerful businesswomen</a> out there, she is the first to admit that she is no stranger to failure. While the first book Huffington wrote was well-received, her second book was <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/07/business/arianna-huffington-leading-women" target="_hplink">rejected by 36 publishers</a>. But failure, Huffington has said, is often the key to success. She told<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/07/business/arianna-huffington-leading-women" target="_hplink"> CNN this past March</a>, "You can recognize very often that out of these projects that may not have succeeded themselves that other successes are built." She is now the author of 13 books as well as the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/" target="_hplink">President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group</a>.