Are Millennials Putting An End to Gender Differences?

When I was growing up, my grandparents followed traditional gender roles: grandfather managed real estate properties while grandma was home taking care of her children.

My parents deviated from that slightly: dad ran a business while mom worked part-time as a secretary.

Now, my generation is poised to eliminate "traditional" gender roles completely.

Today, two-thirds of women earn equal to or more than their spouse. Labor force participation this year has been higher for women than men, narrowing the gap between genders to 13.2 points, the lowest since 1948.

When the Office for National Statistics reviewed pay disparities between generations, they found that the pay gap has fallen from an average of 16 percent for baby boomers to only 5 percent for millennials.

This is happening, in part, because we are more likely to speak openly about our compensation, and review salary data online, to see if we're paid fairly. While talking about pay at work was taboo for older generations, millennials no longer accept those norms.

As a generation, we are more inclusive and tolerant when it comes to all forms of diversity, including race, sexual orientation and class. Being born during a period of heightened immigration, we are more racially diverse than older generations with 56 percent of millennials being white compared to 75 percent of boomers.

Women roller skate in rainbow-colored body suits in the LA Pride Parade on June 8, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. David McNew/Getty

Over half of millennials strongly identify as supporters of gay rights compared to a third of boomers, which shouldn't be a surprise since just over twice the amount (7 percent vs. 3 percent) of us identify as LGBT.

With over a trillion in student loan debt, and 78 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, millennials are on the front lines in a fight over minimum wage, free college and fair pay.

Millennial men share the same values as women when it comes to work-life balance, equal rights, pay transparency and meaningful careers.

Millennial men participated in the Women's March, rallied around Equal Pay Day and have been involved in many protests about equal rights. Instead of focusing on gender, we care more about equal rights for all and protecting and supporting our local communities.

In the workplace, we just want the most qualified candidate to get the job, or promotion, and the decision shouldn't have anything to do with their appearance.

Aside from the cultural norms we grew up with, women are now more educated than men, which has given them more leverage in a workforce that is increasingly losing men. By 29 years of age, 34 percent of women had received a bachelor's degree, compared with 26 percent of men and 72 percent of women had attended college compared with 63 percent of men.

As a mentor to young women, I see this first-hand as they are increasingly having open discussions with their spouses about who will be a stay-at-home parent – a conversation that would be unheard of from previous generations.

When it comes to childcare, Nielsen reports that 44 percent of millennial women, compared to 29 percent of baby boomer women, say they share the responsibility with their spouse.

Companies like Netflix have noticed this trend and enacted a twelve-month unlimited parental leave benefit for both parents, not singling out women or men.

Our research suggests that millennials, more than any previous generation, want to see gender bias eliminated altogether.

Together with, we asked 5,200 American employees if they believe that men or women make better leaders and the result was almost even. Then we compared generational perspectives and discovered that over half of millennials say women make better leaders compared to 41 percent of baby boomers.

In addition, Pew found that millennials are the only generation who say women are more focused on their careers than men, and millennial women are more likely to aspire to be a boss.

In today's society, millennial men care much less about their boss's gender and more about their skills as a leader and being part of a work culture that's inspiring to them.

When Deloitte interviewed 3,7266 individuals, they found that millennials view diversity as a blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Millennials are 25 percent more likely to focus on equality in the workplace than older generations.

We will support more young women rising into leadership positions, which will inadvertently inspire others to follow in their footsteps. When you see people who look like you at the top of your organization, you feel like there's an opportunity for you to be there someday.

Over time, entire organizations will shift based on hiring decisions from diverse leaders, giving more women, and minorities, a chance to move up. Millennials are leading the way for this change to happen because there are eighty million of us and numbers matters when trying to affect lasting change.

The future is even brighter for gender equality, as Generation Z enters the workplace. The Intelligence Group found that more than two-thirds of Gen Z and millennials say gender no longer defines destiny or behavior as it once did.

In the Women in Higher Education Journal, Dr. Laura Hickman surveyed twenty recent college graduates who were preparing for their very first jobs. She spoke to both Gen Z women and men and confirmed that men tended to be more accepting of a female leader than their mothers had been.

One student said, "Being here and exposed to so many women who are just so infinitely more competent than any man or woman that I've ever seen before, it's been really incredible and really exciting ."

As America becomes more diverse every year, we will begin to put gender bias behind us and focus on hiring and promoting the best candidates, recognizing people for their contributions instead of their appearances.

While my generation has started to eliminate gender bias, each generation will bring us closer together instead of further apart.

Dan Schawbel is the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success & Research Director at Future Workplace.

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