A funny thing happened on the way to the office.
Women, particularly the youngest, newest entrants to the workforce became more confident - so confident in fact, that men are beginning to feel left in their dust.
A recent survey by Ipsos MediaCT titled Women, Power & Money found that women considered Generation Y (also known as Millennials and aged 21 to 34) are far more likely than their male peers to describe themselves as “smart” - 70 per cent compared with 54 per cent.
But that disparity between the genders diminishes among older respondents. Generation X women (those aged 35 to 49) still outpace the men in perceived cleverness, but by just 8 per cent. And, regardless of gender, Boomers (those aged 50 to 69) consider themselves equally smart.
And, that pattern – Gen Y women outperforming men, but the gap shrinking with advancing age – was a constant theme as other measures of happiness and accomplishments were gauged. Gen Y women, for example, generally saw themselves as more independent and successful compared with men.
Stephen Kraus, Ipsos MediaCT’s chief insights officer and co-author of the 21-page report released this month, said the findings demonstrate “profound” generational differences. But they also hint at something else that’s happening in the workplace.
“Men show subtle signs of struggling with the continued rise of women,” the report notes.
In this, the fifth such survey for FleishmanHillard and Hearst Magazines since 2008, the authors note that while Boomers fought for the idea that “girls can do anything boys can do,” and Gen Xers adapted to it, Gen Y women don’t even question that notion.
In a separate survey released this week, the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America pointed to the financial mettle of women. Its poll found that 57 per cent of women in the United States said they now have earning power of previously unknown heights. And, about six in 10 described themselves as the primary breadwinner in the household.
But not everything is rosy for the young, up-and-coming female careerist.
The desire to excel was met with more stress and exhaustion for the young women compared with the men, according to the Ipsos poll. And, when asked about career satisfaction, Gen Y men were more apt to be content (54 per cent) versus women (35 per cent).
(On the bright side, the older the woman, the more satisfied she became in her job, and eventually women overtook the men on that scale.)
Of course, the issue of salary disparity hasn’t gone away.
The Ipsos survey found that 90 per cent of women – and 75 per cent of men - agreed that even if they did the same work, men are often paid more than women.
And earlier this year, the women’s advocacy group Catalyst reported that women accounted for just 18.1 per cent of senior officers and top earners at Canada’s 500 largest companies in 2012. That’s a slight improvement over the previous survey, which counted 17.7 per cent in 2010. But the glass ceiling has hardly been smashed.
Still, Lisa Dimino, a senior vice-president with FleishmanHillard, sees the battle of the sexes on the wane.
This survey, which involved 4,500 interviews from around the world both online and one-on-one, found that no matter where they live, Gen Y women saw more gender equality in skills, opportunities and accomplishments.
“Though women are more educated, but paid less than their spouses,” Ms. Dimino said in a statement, “there are signs that a new global generation of Gen Y women is working hard to rectify that inequity.”