I keep seeing articles and blog posts about Generation Y. We’re lazy, we don’t want to do real work, we spend too much time online, we don’t get married soon enough, or at all, we move back home after college. Yes, a lot of it is negative, and not entirely accurate. But more has been coming out lately on the tendencies of Gen Y to donate to charities and volunteer time, put off families to move up in careers first and become financially stable.
Gen Y is the first generation to grow up with computers and experience the explosion of the internet. Gen Y women are the first generation of women to have access to sports, education, careers all without boundaries. We were taught that women can become president – even if we haven’t seen it happen. With all that comes the pressure to truly have it all, and do so gracefully.
While negative connotations abound when talking about my generation, I’ve noticed a few things. First, most people writing about this generation, are not a part of it. How exactly are these people the experts then? Second: a lot of what is written about Gen Y in general focuses on young, single people – you would think all of this generation just graduated college and is still partying all the time. Thought for your consideration: Gen Y women are better educated than Gen Y men, have more disposable income, and are independent. A couple other considerations: some are married and about half between 25 and 29 have a child.
All those things we grew up knowing we had access to: education, careers, and family and not having to choose – were not all true. Equal pay day occurred earlier this month. Yep – women still don’t make as much as men over time for the same work. You were encouraged to go to law school, get a job in a big and have a family and do it all? How does maternity leave work at that firm of yours, and how will it impact your career by taking it? I read an interesting Huffington Post article the other day about my generation and work/life balance. As the post pointed out it isn’t about having a fun place to work, or a program that appears accommodating. It’s about pursuing all these things we were told were attainable and being successful and happy in all of them. As the blog post stated – life is not 9 to 5, so why is work?
At a panel discussion last week hosted by the DC Chapter of Younger Women’s Task Force, there was an extensive talk about maternity leave, the legal aspect, the lack of access to it, and how it can still negatively impact your career. We were also given an interesting reminder: Generation Y is made up of some 80 million men and women. If anything is going to change with fair pay, maternity and yes, paternity leave, paid sick days, work settings and situations, and leave time in general (yes, we will someday be taking care of our parents), it will happen because of Generation Y make change happen.
Yes, we have been called many nasty things over the past few years. The tide seems to be ever so slowly turning though. Generation Y women are huge marketing demographic. It’s time we become a huge voting demographic and take action to get the change we want. Pay attention to what is happening with these issues locally and nationally. If they don’t impact you now, they will down the road.
Take a look at the policies in your office, and talk to women who have had to use maternity leave, or take time off to care for children, parents or themselves, or have taken advantage of alternative and flex scheduling options. Find out how it really works. I also want you to think about how easy it can be for you to take off time when you or a loved one is sick, and how hard it can be for hourly and minimum wage workers. Learn how these issues impact those around you as well.
Originally appeared on Fem2.0