Flying solo. Why Millennial women are staying single
Millennial women are staying single!
Sheryl Sandberg famously said that one of the greatest reasons behind career success for women was their choice of partner. However, a report from the Pew Research Center report suggests that while 48% of baby boomers and 36% of Generation X married between the ages of 18 and 32, only 26% of Millennials got hitched at the same age. But it’s not that they are choosing not to marry, they are also opting not to be in permanent relationships.
This is a very significant cultural trend and one that has potentially a significant impact both socially and economically.
Here are 6 reasons Millennial women are staying single
1. Careers coming first
Many highly qualified women in this age group entered the job market post graduation at the height of the recession, when employment opportunities were lower than they had been for 50 years. A number returned to the parental home or worked in low paying jobs just to pay their bills. Others extended their education taking courses that 20 years ago wouldn’t have been necessary to secure an entry-level job. The phrase career ladder was replaced by the term portfolio career. It is only recently as they reached their late 20s, that more corporate job opportunities started to materialise again. [Tweet “They are a generation who have been raised to believe they can achieve career success.”]
Gemma (30), a Category Manager in an international fmcg company told me “I graduated in 2009 at the height of the recession, when companies had all but stopped graduate recruitment programs. I took an M.A. in Marketing Management and then spent another 3 years doing unpaid internships, short-term and gig contracts. It was only 2 years ago that the job market opened up again. My generation is probably about 5-7 years behind previous generations in terms of career development and are only just starting to take care of ourselves, let alone be part of a marriage or relationship.”
2. Financial Stability
Many have seen the financial hardship experienced by their parents in the recession, so security and prosperity are important to this generation. Burdened by student debt, with reduced career and job opportunities, lower and erratic incomes, increasing rent and house prices, have made this generation cautious about getting into any permanent relationships. The men are also in a similar position and Millennial women are looking for men with steady jobs. The Pew Research Center’s survey says that finding a partner in a steady job is important to 78% of this demographic.
Added to this, the pressure to have a high cost ideal “bling wedding” is a major deterrent. The average wedding today comes in at a massive $26000.
Imogen (31) a Management Consultant with a Big 4 firm based in London said “I am still in the process of paying off £25000 of student loans. My next step will be to buy a flat. In London I will need a deposit of probably £60000 which will take me years to achieve. Getting caught up in a big and expensive wedding is just not something I even think about. I do have some friends who have gone down that route, but they have been funded by their parents. My parents are just not in that income bracket.”
3. They want to have fun
Millennial women feel less pressure to settle down, buy a house and have kids. They have invested more than previous generations in their education and are more determined than ever to be independent. They have lived through post-recession angst. They want to travel and have fun now they have some money in their pocket. They are digitally and socially connected and can be reached in seconds to make arrangements by good friendship groups. This does not mean that they are frivolous. Most Millennials see themselves as conscientious with their money, making educated purchases and shunning excess. They are more invested in a sustainable environment than previous generations.
5. Relationship caution
Boomer divorce rates are sky-rocketing, which is heavily impacting Millennials. Not only are an increasing number experiencing the personal fall out from their parents’ divorce, but they are seeing the dramatic impact this has on their long-term finances, particularly for their mothers, as pension pots are hit. Known as ACODs (Adult Children of Divorce) being involved, has made them more cautious about settling down themselves.
The parents of Carla (35) a corporate lawyer, had been together for 40 years and married for 35, decided to divorce earlier this year both in their 60s. “I can’t tell you how devastating it was for me even at my age. It felt as if the whole fabric of my life had been shattered and has caused an enormous family rift and upset, especially over the division of assets which involved legal action. [Tweet “It’s just horrible and puts me off ever getting married”].”
6. Less judgemental society
In previous generations, women who had multiple short-term, or casual relationships were judged more harshly, even by their free love era and now divorcing parents. Many women also want to openly explore their own sexuality.
Murielle, 32, said “Today, via the internet I can meet, date and even casually hook up with a man if I want to without fear of being judged by anyone. All my friends are sexually active with multiple partners – not necessarily at the same time. We all get checked for S.T.Ds every 6 months. If we start seeing someone longer term, on an exclusive basis, and having unprotected sex, then today proof of a check is a standard part of the process. If there is no man available then access to “gadgets and aids” is easier and less embarrassing than for other generations.”
Millennial women are the slowest of any generation to have children, with declining birth rate of more than 15% between 2007 and 2012, according to a report by the Urban Institute.
One consistent line of thought that did come across from all women who contributed to this piece was that [Tweet “although our culture has changed, our biological clocks haven’t”].
All women were undecided about whether they even wanted children which is in line with current trends. But all are thinking about it. The impact of these decisions is going to be important as we see a more highly educated demographic opting out.
Do you prefer to stay single? Let us know why!
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Dates for the Diary
September 9th - Podcast recording Talkpush - Discussion recruitment for inclusive workplaces
September 21st - ENGIE Gender bias in Performance Assessment online
October 26th - Banque de Luxembourg Préjugés sexistes dans le processus de recrutment.
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