Young females in developed markets are out of step with the world created by their feminist mothers—and that is influencing their attitudes and behaviors at work and home. The Millennials and Gender study from Euro RSCG Worldwide surveyed 3,000 adults in China, France, India, the U.K., and the U.S. The resultant white paper, “Are Women the New Men?” examines new gender relations and roles in the three developed markets in the West (results from China and India will be released separately). Among the findings:
Greta Garbo, They’re Not
The notion of living life alone is anathema to the younger generation. These pioneers of social media evince a strong need for face-to-face companionship and enduring love. When we asked millennials to cite their greatest fear regarding the future, the majority of females in the three markets and more than four in 10 men chose “being alone.” That fear trumped all other choices, including being sick, poor, or homeless.
So Totally Over This “Modern Woman” Thing
Millennial women take their equality with men for granted and have difficulty even imagining a time when females were denied entry to most schools and occupations. Nevertheless, they are keenly aware of the double duty women pull in the aftermath of the women’s movement, not so much “having it all” as “doing it all.” Six in 10 millennial females point to life-work balance or work atmosphere as the most important factors in choosing a job; only three in 10 say salary is their top concern.
Move Over, Boys
It’s been well under a century since women gained the right to vote in the three markets studied, yet there’s clear support for the notion that it is women who will lead global change. A majority of women in each market agreed that women will be the leading change agents and so did sizeable minorities of men (43% in the U.S. and France; 35% in the U.K.).
Seeking a Return to Chivalry
Millennial women would never tolerate a return to male domination, but they do show signs of nostalgia for gender distinctions and a time when men were ready to step up to the plate as providers and protectors. When asked whether “men should be the ones to lead and initiate in romance,” females were significantly more likely to agree than disagree. Are men up for the job? Not exactly: Millennial males in two of the three markets shot down the notion.
Three Lessons for Marketers
1. Knock off the man-bashing: Millennials want to see more role models and fewer buffoons.
2. Toss out gender prescriptions: Pink and sparkly for girls and dark and macho for boys perpetuates gender stereotypes that increasingly don’t apply. Let kids be kids.
3. Acknowledge the new couples paradigm: Rather than depicting a dominant/subordinate or capable/incapable scenario, show how each person’s strengths combine to create a stronger whole.