More young women than men value high-paying career

Published: Monday, April 23 2012 12:02 p.m. MDT

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More young women place great importance on having a high-paying career than do young men, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.

Two-thirds of young women 18 to 34 say being successful and earning lots of money is important, compared to 59 percent of young men.

When Pew looked at the same question in 1997, young men were more likely than young women to say that, though their levels have been relatively flat in the intervening years. At that time, 58 percent said it was important, compared to 56 percent of young women.

Blogger Catherine Rampell of The New York Times finds other evidence of the same trend, including the fact that women now outnumber men on college campuses. She says that "in an economy with few jobs for young workers, young women are speeding up their college enrollment rates to invest in skills for higher-paid jobs, while men are more likely to take whatever position they can find."

New U.S. Labor Department statistics, she said, show that of the 2011 high school graduating class, 72.3 percent of women and 64.6 percent of men had enrolled in college by October.

At the same time, the Pew survey also found increased emphasis placed on a successful marriage by young women. Among young men, that emphasis has decreased.

Both young men and young women say being a successful parent is more important than either career or marriage. "Thus, the increased importance women are now placing on their careers has not come at the expense of the importance they place on marriage and family," the Pew report said.

In 2010, the report said, women made up 46.7 percent of the labor force, a half-percentage point more than in 1997. In 1970, they were 38.1 percent of the labor force.

While the recent recession has seen "disproportionate job losses in male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing," Pew said, women have "fared worse than men in the recovery that began in mid-2009."

"You can't discount the fact that women are feeling more powerful, and that might make them feel more optimistic about the (career) possibilities they can pursue down the line," Pew researcher Kim Parker told the Chicago Tribune.

U.S. News and World Report's Alpha Consumer blog noted that a recent Pew study showed those in their 20s are struggling economically and are delaying marriage and parenthood because of it. "That survey found that more than 80 percent of Americans believe it's harder for young people to find jobs today than it was for their parents, and that earnings for that age group (ages 18 to 24) have dropped more than they have for older workers. While most young adults surveyed said they can't currently afford the life they want, nine in 10 said they will earn enough to live the life of their dreams in the future."

It said that "taken together, these reports suggest an ambitious and optimistic group of 20-something workers who are determined to find success their own way, despite the obstacles in their path."

Parker told the magazine that young people remained optimistic despite the recession. "They feel they have so much time ahead of them and that things will work out," she said.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com

Twitter: Loisco

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