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.

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Comments

  1. marilyn hoyt says

    it is interesting to see these thought-bytes all in one place. but the lack of context make Sladek’s summary FABULOUSLY mis-leading! More men lost jobs in the recession because more women work in (low-paying) service jobs, and less of them were lost. More (single – not noted) women buy houses than (single) men since single women are more often to be supporting children and people with children buy houses. Women in equivalent jobs (never mentioned here) still earn less than their male counterparts, and this is true in every field and at every year of job maturity. For instance, the median female lawyer receives a salary $4,600 less than her male counterpart in year one at a law office. The higher ratio of female degrees in high school and in undergraduate and graduate degrees is making a difference in women’s career options and earning capacity, and this is all good. But graduating men at all of these levels still earn more than women. There’s still a lot of work to do in pay equity to ensure that communities where women are a major part of the workforce benefit from fair earnings they bring into the economy.

    • Sarah Sladek says

      Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing your viewpoint. I disagree that women earn less than their male counterparts in every field. As I stated in this blog, data shows that women under 30 earn more than their male counterparts in all but three cities. Plus, more women are now earning bachelors and Master’s degree than men. That isn’t to say that pay equity is no longer a concern, and it doesn’t speak to the needs or challenges of single moms. The point of this blog was to bring to light the fact that the pendulum is shifting. Presently, data indicates that the next generation of women will be better educated and better paid than any other generation of women in history. I hope we can agree that’s something worth celebrating.

  2. erik says

    In that case it’s time for men to sue the gov’t and corporations for sexual discrimination, simple as that. Why do men have to be 1000 times more qualified than women to get the same job? Sorry, I disagree on the statement that women are better equiped for the 21st C. Any job that women can do, men can do it 1000 times better. They don’t cost the gov’t and company in maternity leave for example. they are stronger, more logical, and smarter in all aspects in jobs. Most men I know pay attention to detail and are gentle. Otherwise, this is just feminist propaganda, that’s all.

    It’s schools and society, including media, in their desperate attempts to put down boys and men. Time and time again, a boy and a girl could make the exact same mistake, who get screamed at the most? You got it, boys! Likewise at work, I’ve seen both men and women make the exact same errors, who get disciplined the most? You got it, men! Who gets thrown into prisons, and given death sentences the most, for the exact same crime committed, you got it, men! Which people are executed in the US the most? You got it, men.

    Am I startine to paint a valid picture? Good!

    Society is always hesitant to punish girls and women. Now that’s not equality.

    The other thing is that the white race is becoming more extinct, look at fertility rates amongst the races. I am predicting that in 50 years from now, the white race will be almost extinct. Why is that? For one, there are more white LBTG persons for example. Remember, that’s two persons not availble to procreate. More African American, Asian American, and Latine American persons object to LBTG, gay marriage, etc than white people. It’s white people for the most part that protest for LBTG. Also society paints the picture that it’s not cool for women to become pregnant anymore, esp in the 21st C. White women buy into that the most.

    Also look at the population demographics, one in three adults in America is a visable minority, and one in two children is a visable minority. 100 years ago it was drastically less. There were as many Europeans as there wer Chinese people. Now, look at the differences. Look at the future. If we keep going in the same path as we are today, there won’t be any white people in 100 years.

    All y’all have a nice day.

    • Sarah Sladek says

      Erik – There’s no reason to hate here. This isn’t a blog pitting women against men. I’m not suggesting there’s a superior sex and my blog has nothing to do with race or sexual orientation. I simply pointed out that more women are pursuing advanced degrees and earning more dough than ever before. I’m not sure why you took such a defensive stance here, but I assure you the purpose of this blog wasn’t to generate anger or hate. The future does not belong to men or women or one race or another. It is not yours or mine. It is ours. We all have to coexist together, so let’s try to get along and support one another. Like Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

  3. EE says

    Here is why I don’t think women are going to be the richer sex, even though their salaries are exceeding us men’s:

    Within my circle of 20-27 year old friends, perhaps the women are going to earn higher salaries….BUT…nowhere have I seen any evidence to indicate that women are going to save any of that money. All of the women I know in my age range spend every penny they have. Meanwhile me and many of my male friends are busy stashing away what we can into savings in the hopes to buy a home in the next 5 years or so. My female cousin, since graduation, has consistently made a good 25% more money than I have. Yet all she has to her name are clothes and handbags. I have several thousand dollars saved with more to come. Most likely when I move in with a woman, I will have to be the one supporting HER, and bring her into MY house. Not the other way around. I will still be paying the way just as men always have.

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