US women more career-focused than men

Young American women now surpass young men in the importance they place on having a high-paying career or profession, according to survey findings from the US-based Pew Research Center.

Young American women now surpass young men in the importance they place on having a high-paying career or profession, according to survey findings from the US-based Pew Research Center.

Two-thirds (66%) of young women ages 18 to 34 rate career high on their list of life priorities, compared with 59% of young men. In 1997, 56% of young women and 58% of young men felt the same way.

The Center says that in the past 15 years have also seen an increase in the share of middle-aged and older women who say being successful in a high-paying career or profession is “one of the most important things” or “very important” in their lives. The report shows that about the same share of women (42%) and men (43%) ages 35 to 64 say this today. In 1997, more middle-aged and older men than women felt this way (41% vs. 26%).

For men and women of all ages, being a good parent and having a successful marriage continue to rank significantly higher on their list of priorities than being successful in a high-paying job or career. Thus, the increased importance women are now placing on their careers has not come at the expense of the importance they place on marriage and family, says the report.

The Center says US women now surpass men in college enrolment and completion. Some 44% of women ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college or graduate programs as of October 2010, compared with just 38% of men in the same age group.

In addition, 36% of women ages 25 to 29 had a bachelor’s degree, compared with only 28% of men in the same age group. However, full-time or salaried women sill earn $155 a week less than men on average. They have also fared worse than men in the labour market since mid 2009.

The report shows the shares of working-age women and men who say having a successful marriage is “one of the most important things” or a “very important” thing in their lives exceed 80% now, just as they did in 1997. And the shares who place a high priority on being a good parent exceed 90% in both years. In comparison, only about half of women or men place the same level of importance on professional success.

However, although young women are focusing more than young men on their career, they also are placing a higher value than young men on both marriage and parenthood.

The share of women ages 18 to 34 who say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives has risen nine percentage points since 1997, from 28% to 37%, says the report, despite the fact that they are more likely to marry later.

However, the share of young men ages 18 to 34 who say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things has dropped from 35% in 1997 to 29% now. Today a significantly smaller share of young men (29%) than young women (37%) list marriage as one of their highest priorities; this represents a change from 1997, when men and women were statistically equal on this measure.

Nevertheless, the number of middle-aged and older men who say that a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their life has increased nine percentage points since 1997 and is nearly equal (36%) to the share of middle-aged and older women who say this today (37%).

Parenting ranks even higher on the list of priorities for both women and men. The share of young women who rate parenting as a top priority has increased dramatically in recent years, says the report. Today, nearly six-in-ten (59%) women ages 18 to 34 say being a good parent is one of the most important things in their life. The share of young men who feel this way is 47% now, up from 39% in 1997.

Both middle-aged and older women and men are significantly more likely to place parenting at the top of their priorities today than in 1997. More than half (56%) of women and nearly half (49%) of men ages 35 to 64 say being a good parent is one of the most important things, with increases of 13 and 11 percentage points, respectively.





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