Understanding the position of women in the workplace is in itself a daunting task, given large variation by region, country, and industry. Understanding attitudes surrounding females in the workplace is even more complex, due to changing perceptions and biases. Comparing these for Millennial and Gen Z women seems impossible, yet this article attempts that very task.
One thing is clear: both Millennial (born between 1980 and 1995) and Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2012) women are entering the workforce with higher levels of education as well as more career ambition and confidence, trying to carve a space for themselves in the labour market. Beyond this, however, attitudes, perceptions, and needs differ from generation to generation.
Gender disparities still exist in the workplace, and Millennial women are well aware of this: only 49% of career starters believe they can progress to senior positions in the company they work for, compared to 71% of their male counterparts. There are also strong perceptions of gender disparity in promotion, attracting, developing and retaining employees: between 25% and 43% of Millennial women agree that employers are too male-biased in these areas, compared to only 13-22% of Millennial men. The most worrying aspect is that as Millennial women progress in their career, their perception of these gender disparities increases: only 39% of women in established careers agree they can rise to most senior positions with their current employer, and more women at later career stages agree that employers are male-biased in various stages of employment –likely women in later stages have more experience, and are more aware of gender discrimination in their field.
It is also relevant to note that Millennial men also believe they are discriminated in the workplace, and are in fact 50% more likely than Millennial women to say that gender affects their career opportunities.
There is a perception that Gen Z women expect greater gender equality both in the workplace and in other spheres of their lives, and will thus hold employers to higher standards in terms of employee opportunities compared to Millennial women. However, this expectation of higher equality might also be due to Gen Z being fresh into the workforce, being more hopeful and optimistic about the gender landscape in the labour market. This is similar to what was discussed in the previous paragraph: younger Millennial women being more hopeful about promotion and identifying lower bias against them in all stages of employment. Despite these perceptions, there is continued gender disparity for Gen Z; in the technology industry, for example, Gen Z females seek roles less frequently than males: 34% and 73%, respectively.
Gen Z and Millennial workers also have similar needs: both groups want their values to align with those of the company they work for, this being particularly relevant for Gen Z with 77% of respondents claiming that this is important. Similarly, both groups want frequent feedback from employers: 49% of Millennial women wanting feedback very frequently, and 40% of Gen Z workers wanting daily interactions with their superiors.
Nonetheless, salary remains a top motivator across generations, with 70% of Gen Z workers placing it as the top factor. Despite this high percentage, Gen Z values salary less than previous generations: when faced with a choice between a higher-paying but more boring job, and a lower-paying one in a more interesting field, respondents were fairly split.
A large disparity between the generations can be found when looking at work-life balance considerations: for 97% of Millennial workers, this balance is important, compared to only 38% of Gen Z respondents. This may in part be due to different study methods, but could be explained by the fact that Gen Z are younger and just starting off their careers, thus being more focused on that aspect of their lives, while Millennials are older and have been in the workforce for longer, thus may now be more focused on other personal matters.
Overall, Millennial and Gen Z women are advancing workplace gender equality, taking more opportunities and ensuring they are being recognised. There are differing attitudes between the two generations, with Millennial women being more aware of the disparity they face, as well as having different needs from their employers, but this may well change as more Gen Z females enter and progress in the job market. The main takeaway is this: regardless of what generation they’re in, women are carving out their space and will not give it up without a fight.
 9 or more years of experience
By Anna Michieletto, PR intern at WhatWork Career Coaching Limited