Millennial Women Are Actually Pretty Optimistic About Workplace Equality

Poll suggests young working women don't see as many barriers to success as those who came before.

According to a new global poll, women under 35 are more positive about their career prospects than their predecessors. 

The poll, conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, surveyed 9,500 women in 19 nations in the G20 and found that millennials were more optimistic than previous generations about workplace issues such as equal pay, networking opportunities and the effects of motherhood on careers. 

Despite the persisting wage gap, 43 percent of women under 35 were confident they'd achieve equal pay. Only 34 percent of women between 50 and 64 saw this as a possibility. That millennial confidence also extended to women's feelings on being able to juggle a career with children. Forty-eight percent of younger women said they were confident they could do it, compared to 45 percent of women between 35 and 64. 

Despite the persisting wage gap, 43 percent of women under 35 were confident they'd achieve equal pay.


When it came to starting their own businesses, 40 percent of millennial women believed they had the same chance of success as men, while only 33 percent of women between the ages of 50 and 64 felt the same. Women under 35 also were more optimistic about access to jobs, as well as their professional development and career growth opportunities, with 45 percent of them thinking men have it better in these areas, compared to 50 percent of older women.

The survey also suggested that the "boys club" workplace trope is less of an issue for millennials. Forty-two percent of millennial women surveyed felt like they had the same access to business networks as men, while only 33 percent of older women agreed.

When it came to starting their own businesses, 40 percent of millennial women believed they had the same chance of success as men.


The outlook of the millennials surveyed could be chalked up to youthful optimism, but these young women weren't naively unaware of the challenges they face -- four in every 10 women saw the gender wage gap as a key issue. And the top concern for women of all ages across the globe was work-life balance, with 44 percent of women listing it as a major challenge.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women currently earn 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, while mothers make a mere 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers (a.k.a. they pay the "mommy tax"). While the wage gap is indeed closing, if it continues to move at the same pace as it has the last 50 years, equal pay won't be achieved until 2059, according to estimates from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Work-life balance can seem equally as far-fetched for women, who tend to do more of the housework than their male partners, even when they're the primary breadwinners

Optimism alone won't fix systemic gender inequalities, but with women increasingly moving into male-dominated fields and making the wage gap a national conversation, there's certainly reason to see the bright side of things.

And research has suggested that having a good attitude can make people more physically and emotionally resilient. If women are going to have to excel at their jobs and push through the glass ceiling, remaining optimistic might just be their best strategy.

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