The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 11, 2013

Millennial women closing gender gap, but motherhood may offset gains


“The question mark is, what will happen to millennials 10 or 15 years into their career?” said Kim Parker, Pew’s director of social trends research. “Will they slide behind?”

Among Americans of all ages, mothers were almost three times as likely as fathers to have quit their jobs at some point to care for a child or other family member, the Pew survey of more than 2,000 people found. Mothers were also more likely to reduce their hours or take time off for family.

“Nowadays, a childless woman may be able to work every bit as much as her male counterpart,” University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor Barbara Risman said. “What’s holding people back is when they become parents — either mothers or egalitarian fathers, who take equal or primary responsibility for raising children.”

Among working parents with children younger than 18, mothers were roughly three times as likely as fathers — 51 percent vs. 16 percent — to say parenthood had hampered their careers. Even among millennial parents, mothers were much more likely than fathers to say that working parents have trouble advancing.

When Kylie Anderson worked a string of internships and jobs in the entertainment business, dreaming of being a screenwriter, she noticed other women struggling to balance work and children. None seemed to breeze through it, said Anderson, a UCLA graduate now working at a nonprofit.

When it comes to her own career, the 22-year-old concluded, “having a child would be game over, at least for a while.”

Even among millennials, women are still less likely than men to aspire to becoming the boss. Pew found that gap persists despite the fact that most millennials believe women of their age are as focused on their careers — or more so — as men.

“I get frustrated with my friends because they don’t aspire,” said Jordan Boldt, a 30-year-old mother who decided to stay home with her daughters. “It’s like we grow up thinking that we can’t go far.”


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