Young women are more likely than young men to value a financially successful career, which represents a reversal from the 1990s, a new study found. They are also more likely to highly value having a successful marriage, while young men less so, than in the 1990s. But both young men and women are more likely to highly value being a successful parent than in the '90s.
Sixty-six percent of young women, 18-43 years of age, compared to 59 percent of young men, said that being successful in a high-paying job is "one of the most important things" or "very important" in their lives, according to the Pew Research Center study. The study combined two surveys from 2010 and 2011. The greatest change since 1997, when a similar survey was taken, was the 10 percentage point increase in the number of women valuing a financially successful career.
In 1997, the gender difference was nearly identical. Fifty-eight percent of young men and 56 percent of young women placed a high value on financial success at the time.
Among the young people who said that marriage or parenting is "one of the most important things" in their lives, not including those who said those were "very important," there are some gender differences and changes over time as well.
In 1997, young men were more likely than young women to place a high priority on marriage, but in 2010/2011 that was reversed. Thirty-five percent of young men and 28 percent of young women placed the highest value on a successful marriage in 1997. In 2010/2011, fewer young men, 29 percent and more young women, 37 percent, said that having a successful marriage is "one of the most important things" in their lives.
Both young men and young women were more likely to place high value on being a good parent than their 1997 counterparts. In 1997, 39 percent of young men and 42 percent of young women said that being a good parent is "one of the most important things in their lives. In the 2010/2011 surveys, those numbers rose to 47 percent for young men and 59 percent for young women.
While young people were more likely to place high value on marriage now than in the 1990s, the Pew study notes that they are not getting married at a higher rate than their prior generation counterparts. One third of young women are married and the median age for the first marriage is 27. By comparison, in 1960 about three-quarters of young women were married and the median age for the first marriage was 20.
Today, women are more likely to balance a career outside the home with motherhood. More than seven-in-ten women with children at home, 71 percent, are in the workforce, which is up from 47 percent in 1975.
For the study, Pew combined two surveys, conducted Jan. 14-27, 2010 and Dec. 6-19, 2011. The total sample had 610 women and 703 men. The 1997 survey had 188 women and 195 men.