As the third generation of working moms to really enter the workforce in earnest, millennials can learn from the struggles Baby Boomers and Gen Xers faced before them. Previous generations changed the landscape of traditionally male dominated businesses and fought for gender equality and maternity leave. We’ve come a long way. But have we come far enough? Many millennials find a work-life balance difficult to achieve despite the progress made.
It’s wonderful that women today have more opportunity in terms of jobs than did previous generations. However, careers often start to take off between age 25 – 29, about the same time many women begin to think about starting their families. A promotion, which might mean longer hours and more travel, can conflict with the instinctive pull to be home with children. The struggle to achieve both personal and professional success still greatly affects working moms today,
The Workplace Has Changed, But Not Enough
Millennial moms seem to realize the workplace actually hasn’t changed much over the years. Yes, paid maternity leave is more common, but flexible hours and child care benefits are not available to most full-time working moms. Managers are not always supportive of a parent who needs to take time off to nurse a sick child back to health. Some companies do offer a more family-friendly work environment, but most still do not. Many feel being a working mom makes it hard to get ahead.
Charting a New Course
Millennials seek different options than previous generations of mothers. Instead of quitting work altogether, many seem willing to give up a promotion to better manage their work and home life responsibilities. Others work to create flexible situations for themselves such as job sharing, working from home, and consulting on a per project basis. More professional part-time opportunities are available today, and employers are often happy to hire an experienced contract employee that does not require benefits.
Millennial women will leave their mark on the work world as did those in previous years. It will be interesting to see how a work-life balance is achieved in the next generation. What are your thoughts?