The new workforce: Young, rich and female

Picture a picnic blanket, laid out beautifully on the green grass set with a wooden picnic basket and plates, napkins, and delicious food on display.

Now picture someone coming up to your glorious picnic and yanking the blanket out from underneath it all. You stand there, watching everything come crashing down in complete disarray.

Well folks, that’s exactly what’s happening to the workforce.

First it was a demographic shift. About 10 years ago, younger generations with very different values and approaches to work started to influence –and change– the way we work and do business.

By 2015, we will observe the largest turnover in human capital in history and Generation Y (currently ages 17-30) will outnumber the Baby Boomers in the workforce. This is a substantial change in and of itself considering the Boomer generation has been in power for more than 40 years.

But now another wave of change is occurring. For the first time in history, women now fill the majority of jobs in the U.S. and in many instances, they are out-earning their male counterparts.

In other words, not only is the workforce getting younger — it’s becoming more female.

There goes that picnic basket!

At XYZ University, our specialty is teaching organizations how to engage Generations X, Y, and Z. And right now you can’t really talk about generations without also talking about gender.

Throughout most of the history of the world, men have done the work that generated the family income while women did the work of having children, raising the family, and creating community. Older men held the power, and younger men were trained to follow in their footsteps.

This model lasted so long because it worked: One could make plans for their life with confidence that things would stay pretty much the same.  Everyone in society had a role to play.

But today, by most indicators, that model is now finished.

The media is buzzing over the gender shift, which has been a remarkable shift even in comparison to 10 years ago. 

  • BusinessWeek  reported on the househusbands to the rich and famous female CEOs.
  • The Washington Post reported on women making more money than their “recliner-king” husbands.
  • The Atlantic reported on the gender shift under the controversial title, The End of Men.
  • The Economist reported that girls and women are a better investment for the economy because they are better equipped for the new jobs of the 21st century, where brains will count more than brawn.
  • Time Magazine‘s cover story, The Richer Sex, revealed that the majority of working wives will out-earn their husbands in the next generation.

Some game-changing statistics shared in these articles:

  • Women now fill a majority of jobs in the U.S., including 51.4 percent of managerial and professional positions;
  • Women 30 and under make 8% more money, on average, than their male counterparts in all but three of the largest cities in the U.S.;
  • Young women (ages 18-34) value a high-paying career more than young men;
  • 23 percent of wives now out-earn their husbands;
  • During the recent recession, three men lost their jobs for every woman;
  • For every two men who will receive bachelor’s degrees this year, three women will do the same;
  • 60% of all Masters degrees are going to women;
  • Homes are now purchased twice as often by women than men.

No organization or industry is exempt from these demographic or gender-shifting trends. Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, a Baby Boomer or Gen Y, they will impact everyone from now on.

It’s fascinating, really. We are witnessing more socio-economic change than at any time in modern history.  However you see or experience the world, be prepared for a massive re-think.

Be prepared to start your picnic over.