Millennial Women Chart Own Career Path, Question Professional Ambition

Four-in-ten say too much personal sacrifice is at stake


Amidst the ongoing discussions of women and leadership in the workplace and recent focus on corporate diversity as governments and advocates look to elevate the number of women in senior business roles, new research finds that Millennial women actually have little interest in assuming the top post at large or prominent organizations.

A recent survey commissioned by Zeno Group, the award-winning global public relations firm, finds that only18 per cent of 1,000 university-educated Millennial women say they aspire

to be the number one leader in a large or prominent organization (6%) or of their own enterprise (12%).

“This is a wake-up call for those looking to attract more women to senior roles,” says Cynthia Zamaria, Managing Director, Zeno Canada. “Those best-suited to lead are looking at a number of career paths and they don’t all lead to the corner office.”

While 20 per cent want to be among the top people leading an organization, almost double (38%) want to do great, rewarding or interesting work, but don’t care about managing or leading others. And almost one-in-ten care most about being a creative person working on their own or with a small team of like-minded people.

A prominent theme emerging from the research is the extent to which the Millennial women surveyed are concerned about the personal sacrifices they believe are inextricably linked to their ability to achieve their professional goals.

  • A significant majority (87%) believe women leaders have to make more personal sacrifices than do male leaders
  • Most (84%) agree that in order to be in a leadership role, women have to make important sacrifices when it comes to raising a family
  • Only just over half (54%) say they are willing to sacrifice aspects of their personal life in order to achieve professional success
  • And almost four-in-ten (42%) agree that the sacrifices women leaders have to make aren't worth it

Obstacles to Getting Ahead

This new data suggests that decision-makers and advocates need to look at creative ways to develop, recruit and retain Millennial talent. Here’s what Millennial women identify as what would most prevent them from attaining the professional roles they ultimately desire:

  • Inability to balance professional goals with being a parent (24%)
  • Lack of self-confidence (19%)
  • Lack of role models (10%)
  • Lack of skills/education (10%)

Mentors Matter

While just under half (45%) of the Millennial women surveyed have a mentor, those who do are significantly more likely to feel on track to achieve their professional goals (86% vs. 66%).

  • Those without mentors are much less confident professionally; they are twice as likely as those with a mentor to say that a lack of self-confidence might prevent them from attaining their ultimate goals (27% vs. 13%)

Working Moms Juggle Career and Goals [1]

While 41 per cent of working Millennial moms feel held back by the inability to balance professional goals with being a parent, they are managing career and family.

  • 55% of working Millennial moms aspire to be number one or among the top people in a large or prominent organization, including one they might found as an entrepreneur (a significant comparison to 29% of their American counterparts)
  • 91% of working Millennial moms think they can juggle work life and family life over the long haul
  • 86% of working Millennial moms believe they are on track to achieve their professional goal, and 55% believe it will take them less than six years if they haven’t done so already
  • 72% of working Millennial moms are willing to sacrifice aspects of their personal life to achieve professional success

“Young women’s eyes are wide-open to opportunities and obstacles in front of them,” adds Zamaria, herself a mother of three school-aged children. “If we want more smart, strong women at the head of the table, as role models, we need to help them take their seat.”

The market research firm Edelman Berland conducted this online survey of 1,000 Canadian women ages 21 to 33 who were graduates of an accredited university. The survey was conducted May 17, 2013 to May 22, 2013. The margin of error is +/- 3% (at a 95% confidence level). The research was also executed in the U.S. Not all numbers may add up to 100% due to rounding.

Join the conversation: #fearlesswomen

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[ 1] Working moms are defined by: have children under 18 and work part-time, are employed full-time, or are self-employed.

About Zeno Group

Believers in the fearless pursuit of the unexpected, the award-winning Zeno Group operates as one firm across eleven full-service offices in New York, Chicago, Santa Monica, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Toronto, London, Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Singapore, and three satellite offices in Amsterdam, Sao Paolo and Tokyo.  Zeno is the unprecedented 2011, 2012 and 2013 winner of the PR Week US Mid-Size Agency of the Year, 2011 Holmes Report US Creative Agency of the Year and 2013 Holmes Report Consumer Agency of the Year. The firm’s practice areas include consumer, health, technology and corporate, all supported by planning, digital engagement and media. Please visit us at zenogroup.com http://zenogroup.com/canada , like us on Facebook or follow us @zenocanada.

About Edelman Berland

Edelman Berland is a global, market research and analytics firm that provides corporate, non-profit and government clients with strategic intelligence to make their communications and engagements with stakeholders the smartest they can be.  The firm specializes in qualitative and quantitative research, measurement, tracking and analysis in reputation, branding and communications.   Edelman Berland is part of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations company. Edelman Berland has more than 100 employees in offices around the world. For more information, please visit www.edelmanberland.com . Edelman Berland: Intelligent Engagement.

For more information, to receive more insights from the research, or for interview opportunities with compelling and successful Millennial women, please contact:

Joanna Leong                                                             Erin MacFarlane                                  

joanna.Leong@zenogroup.com                                       erin.macfarlane@zenogroup.com

(416) 849-8950                                                              (416) 849-1548

About Us

At Zeno Group Canada we are a true challenger agency for challenger brands. We are different by design – believers in the fearless pursuit of the unexpected. We specialize in crafting experiential PR initiatives that focus on the medium and the message and deliver game changing results for our clients across Canada. With a presence in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Atlantic Canada, we see no perimeters only possibilities to help our clients make the most of communications to tell their story and build their business. From consumer to digital to healthcare, Zeno Group Canada is building a new model of engagement. Listen. Analyze. Disrupt. Engage. Repeat.

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