The Job Search And Career Advice Blog header image 2

Who’s Joined The Rat Race Now?

January 8th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Posted by

Continuing our discussion of younger professionals in the workforce this week, CNN mentions a study outlining the career priorities of recent grads. They claim that young women are more likely to choose their careers over love, while college-aged young men are more likely to put relationships first.

When it comes to work versus romance, the stereotype has been that men put a premium on career goals while women focus more on family and friends. Not so, according to a study published recently in the scientific journal “Gender Issues.”

Researchers asked 237 undergraduates to rate the importance of goals such as financial success, career, education and contribution to society, as well as goals such as romantic relationships, marriage, children and friendship.

While 51 percent of the women prioritized romantic relationships over achievement goals, more than 61 percent of men did the same.

That sounds about right to me.

Young women are very career-focused these days. This fits with the trends we’ve been reading about recently concerning women electing to start families later in life. Amongst the 20-somethings I know in my personal life, none of them are parents yet, and only a handful are even married.

Still, I think the story confuses what the real motivation is here. The one anecdote they highlight in the story has to do with a young woman who is smart enough to realize that her college relationship might not last long term and is rightly putting more of a focus on building her career. In other words, she’s just well thought out. I think both young men and young women today are more willing to give priority to their personal lives and personal happiness than men and women of previous generations were. But they also have a very clear idea of what they want from their lives and they have planned things out accordingly. What gets sacrificed now, might take priority later. They’re just sticking with their game plan. The twenties are for personal growth, career establishment and sampling different relationships. The thirties are for settling down, finding a relationship that can work long term, making a home and maybe having kids (if at all).

The fact that young people are not willing to risk letting a youthful but possibly ill-conceived emotional relationship derail their life plans and career path just makes sense. Maybe this generation is smarter about those sorts of things.

Still, the idea that women are more focused in this regard than men are, is interesting.

What do you think accounts for that?

No related posts.

Tags: Office Romance · WorkLife · Young Professionals

  • Rick

    Many of today’s 20-somethings were told throughout childhood that they could be anything they wanted to be if they put their minds to it and worked hard. And, unlike previous generations, there was no gender bias in that message. I’m a Boomer dad whose teenage daughter will enter college later this year. She has a career plan in mind and is focused; my wife and I gave her that same message. It’s a welcome change from the message many of the women of my generation heard about 40 years ago: You are meant to raise a family and maintain a home.

    Today’s 20-something woman is just as competitive, if not more so, as a man. I can see a greater intensity among them in high school athletics that may well transfer into the working world, and that may carry over to those who don’t play sports. Bottom line: The study you cite doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s a different world than the one I lived in during the ’60s and ’70s. Whatever you want in life, whether you’re a man or woman, just go for it.