How would Don Draper feel about this?
A recent Pew Research Center study has found that young women are placing more value on a high-paying career than young men. But while climbing that ladder, young women are also striving for a happy marriage and children.
The results are based on a variety of questions from surveys conducted in January 2010 and December 2011 that asked “respondents to weigh the importance of key aspects in life,” the Pew Research report said.
According to Pew Research’s findings, more women age 18 to 34 value a high-paying career han young men, 66 to 59 percent. This number for women is up 10 percent from 1997, and up 1 percent for young men. For women ages 35 to 64, 42 percent say being successful in a high-paying career is “one of the most important things” or “very important,” compared to 43 percent of their male counterparts. In 1997, only 26 percent of middle-age and older women felt this way, compared to 41 percent of men.
Women have also grown in the labor force over the years. In 1970, women made up only 38.1 percent of the labor force, compared to 46.2 percent in 1997 and finally 46.7 percent in 2010. And women are enrolling in school and graduating at a higher rate than men, the study found. As of October 2010, 44 percent of women ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college or graduate programs, compared to 38 percent of men. The study also found a “record-high divergence” between women and men ages 25 to 29 who had a bachelor’s degree: 36 percent of women versus 28 percent of men.
“Women first surpassed men in these realms in the early 1990s, and the gap has been growing wider ever since,” the report said.
Still, women lag in compensation. In 2010, full-time or salaried female workers had median weekly pay of $669, compared with $824 for their male counterparts. In 1979, women were paid an average of 62 percent of men’s wages. That gap narrowed to 80 to 81 percent in 2004. By in 2010, females age 16 to 34 received more than 90 percent of wages for men in the same age range, but women ages 35 to 64 got 80 percent or less of men’s compensation.
But women still want a happy marriage and family to go along with a successful career.
“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 9 percentage points since 1997, from 28 percent to 37 percent,” the report said.
The percentage of men in that range who prioritize marriage has dropped to 29 percent in 2010 and 2011 from 35 percent in 1997. In 1997, the share of young men and women who listed marriage as “one of their highest priorities” was statistically equal, but 29 percent of young men and 37 percent of young women now want this.
The share of young women who rank parenting as a top priority has increased by 17 points since 1997 to 59 percent of women ages 18 to 34. The percentage of young men who feel this way has also grown from 39 percent in 1997 to 47 percent. Fifty-six percent of women 35 to 64 say parenting is a top priority, compared to 49 percent of men in the same age range; an increase of 13 and 11 percentage points from 1997, respectively.
Still only 33 percent of women 18 to 34 are married, compared to 73 percent of women in this age range in 1960. The median age for first marriage is 27 for women now, compared with 20 in 1960, and the median age for first-time mothers is 24 today, up from 22 in 1960.
“While marriage and family still remain among women’s top priorities, many are delaying these milestones when compared with earlier generations,” the report said.
But women who get married and have kids today are generally continuing to work while doing so. Almost half (48 percent) of married couples in 2010 consisted of two breadwinners, according to a 2010 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, compared with 34 percent In 1975. And 71 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 at home are in the labor force, compared with 47 percent in 1975.
“A September 2011 Pew Research poll found that 73 percent of Americans feel that the trend toward more women in the workforce has been a change for the better in our society,” the report said.
And 62 percent of the general public believes a marriage with both the husband and wife working and parenting the children is more satisfying than the traditional male-breadwinner marriage, according to an October 2010 Pew Research poll.