Young women entering the workforce can expect to be paid almost as much as the guys around them. The playing field still isn’t entirely level, but it's flatter than it's ever been. How close are we? In 2012, women between the ages of 25 and 34 made 93 percent as much as males in their age bracket, according to a new Pew Research survey.
Between 1980 and 2012, the workplace gender gap has gradually narrowed, as wages rose for women and dropped for young men. In 1980, the median hourly wage for a woman was 64 percent as much as it was for a man, whereas by 2012, it had risen to 84 percent (this includes earnings from all women age 16 or older).
While this near parity in earnings between the genders in the millennial generation is encouraging, analysts and young women themselves are not optimistic that it will last throughout their careers. It's a trend that's played out in previous generations, where women's average earnings have fallen behind their male counterpart's as many of them start having children. "For women, marriage and motherhood are both associated with less time spent on paid work-related activities," the study states. "For men, the onset of family responsibilities has a reverse effect on their career."
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When you look at the recent coverage of the issue (particularly the recent New York Times Magazine article about the struggles previously high-earning women face re-entering the workforce), combined with the fact that, according to the survey, mothers are three times as likely as fathers to say that being a working parent has made it harder for them to advance in their career, it's easy to understand why young women have a dimmer view of their overall career trajectory than guys their same age.
Despite the fact that these young women are starting their careers earning almost as much as the men around them, they are just as inclined as older generations to believe that they are treated unequally by society and employers.
The good news? While a woman's overall outlook may be a bit gloomy when it comes to achieving career-long earning parity, just fifteen percent of millennial women say they have experienced gender discrimination on the job.
And, perhaps complicating the matter, women who have taken time off work to care for a family member (this includes children) say they have few regrets and, if faced with the same choice, would do it again.