Searching for some inspiration right before the weekend, I came across some great articles about my generation of women. It completely validated why I write this blog and put me in a really good mood (well, mostly). So naturally- I had to write about it.
It’s no secret that women haven’t always had the equalities, sense of worth, or opportunities we have now. Some women never dreamed of holding a man’s job because it just wasn’t possible. Being twenty-three years old and coming from an all-women’s college I rarely ever think about this. I have never said I couldn’t do something, didn’t deserve something, or wasn’t capable of doing something because of my gender. I always assumed and hoped that other women (of all ages) felt the same way. In reality, it’s really only my generation that has this mindset and as happy as that makes me it also makes me kind of sad at the same time.
In a recent study by FleishmanHillard, Heart Magazines, and Ipsos MediaCT they found that Gen Y women (born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s) see themselves as equal to their male counterparts/co-workers in the work place. The best part? This isn’t just in the United States. Women all over the world are perceiving themselves this way. The study was conducted with 1,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. along with 3,000 women from UK, France, Germany, and China. When participants were asked if they would describe themselves as smart, 70% of women said they would while only 54% of the men from Gen Y said yes. We certainly need to take a moment and celebrate how far we have come. The values and mind-set in which Gen Y women have been raised are clearly working. Growing up, we were never denied anything. We were always told we can be whatever we want to be. I honestly don’t think I ever heard the words, “No, you can’t do that. You’re a woman,” growing up or even today. This proves that women were never less capable than men. We have just been forced to believe we were. It was engrained into our brains to the point where we actually just started to believe it. Men had their role, women had their role and that was the end of it. If you were a women you took care of the house, raised the children, and maybe picked up a secretary, nursing, or teaching job. It was normal, natural- nothing wrong with it. Now, young women are going way beyond any such standard. And the fact that they actually feel and truly believe they can do so and deserve it at the same time is the best part. What’s the difference between Gen Y women, Gen X women, and baby-boomer women? Absolutely nothing. Except what we were taught.
Yes, this is all good news but we aren’t completely done here. These same women also admitted that there are still wage inequalities. More then 80% of the women involved in this study said that men are still paid more, often for the same exact job. The women did attribute part of this to the fact that men are better at negotiating and asking for salary increases but in my opinion- we shouldn’t have to. Why is there this inequality in the first place? Why does having female anatomy parts automatically make you less qualified, leading to a smaller salary? Because we won’t fight? Because we are too passive? I don’t totally buy it. Every person doing the same job should be paid the same salary. End of story. Yes, I understand there are different education levels, people have been in positions and with companies for different amounts of the time but the base salary should all be the same. We shouldn’t have to beg or ask for equal treatment. If we are qualified enough to be hired, we should be qualified enough to get a fair salary.
Another disturbing result in this survey was that 50% of the women that participated said that men resent the advances that women have made in the recent years. We may see ourselves as equal- but do men? In my experiences I have certainly thought so. I guess I am extremely lucky, I have never been made to feel inferior by a man because of my gender. But, if 50% of these women have had this experience then I can’t deny it- it’s still very much a real thing. The women that came before us had to deal with the same prejudices. This is nothing new and unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon if this many women are still struggling with this discrimination.
This brings me to the question- what has really changed? There is one thing that is different this time around. Our attitudes. Women are no longer accepting this mindset. My generation is breaking down this barrier by believing in themselves. We now know we are worthy and know we can do anything we set our minds too. We can do anything anyone else can do and we won’t except “no” as an answer. But, this is only the first step. Should we consider the fact that women are finally thinking of themselves as equal to or dominant to men a success? Yes, I think so- but how far is that going to get us? The world needs to see women in the same light as we see ourselves before anything can really change. Pay inequality or resentment because of your accomplishments is not conducive to reaching true gender equality. There needs to be a huge social/cultural change before we can see true equality, especially in the work place where males and females work closely together, competing for the same jobs. We believe in ourselves- now can the rest of the world?
It makes me extremely happy to be part of Gen Y and know that my other fellow female peers feel the same way I do. We are so close- we need to keep empowering each other, supporting each other, and reaching out to those who need a little more help to get to where we are. I am proud of where we are today and I can’t wait too see where we go in the next 20, 50, 70 years.
That’s my weekend wisdom for you- enjoy! My intellectual side needs a nap, or perhaps a glass of wine…