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Millennial Women Question Professional Ambition

Millennial Working WomenNearly 50 Percent of Women Say That Too Much Personal Sacrifice Is at Stake

NEW YORK (June 13, 2013):  Amidst the ongoing discussions of women in the workplace and the opportunity for women to assume leadership positions, new research finds that Millennial women, surprisingly, have little interest or desire to assume a top leadership position.

A recent survey commissioned by Zeno Group, the award-winning global public relations firm, finds that only fifteen percent of 1,000 Millennial women said they would want to be the number one leader of a large or prominent organization.  Of these women, 92% are confident they are on the right track to attain that role and two-thirds (66%) think it will take them less than six years to do so.

A prominent theme emerging from the research is the extent to which millennial women are unwilling to make the personal sacrifices they believe are inextricably linked to their ability to climb the corporate ladder. 

  • Forty nine percent say the sacrifices women leaders have to make aren’t worth it, and nine in ten agree that women leaders have to make more sacrifices than their male counterparts 
  • More than three-quarters of women surveyed (76%) are concerned about their ability to achieve a balance between personal and professional goals
  • Less than half of the women (46%) are willing to sacrifice aspects of their personal life to achieve professional goals
  • Diving deeper into the data, a strong majority (59%) of millennial moms agree that the sacrifices women leaders make are not worth it in contrast to 40% of those without children share that point of view

“This new data shows we must get smarter and more creative in the recruiting and retention of top Millennial talent, said Siegel. “We don’t want W-O-R-K becoming the new four-letter word for this generation.”

The survey also found that Millennial women truly value mentorship.  However, surprisingly, less than 60% of these Millennials have mentors. Women who have a mentor are much more likely to believe they are on track to achieve their professional goal than women who don’t have a mentor (82% vs. 60%).

“The findings send a clear signal that we cannot operate business as usual,” said Barby K. Siegel, CEO of Zeno Group and mo ther of two teenage daughters. “We need to think about doing things differently when helping Millennial women develop their careers and weigh the sacrifices that may or may not be required.  We do not want to risk losing this talented generation of professionals.”

Millennial Women with Children vs. Without Children

Not surprisingly, the Zeno survey unveiled different attitudes when comparing millennial women who have children with those who do not:

  • Millennial moms are six times more likely than millennial women without children to say that their career is not that important to them (26% versus 4%)
  • Millennial moms are three times more likely than millennial women without children to say that an inability to balance professional goals with being a parent is what is most likely to keep them from achieving their professional goals (35% vs. 11%)

Stay-at-Home vs. Working Millennial Moms[1]

  • The study also revealed a difference in perspectives between stay-at-home versus working millennial moms, however, both agree that having a family takes a toll on achieving professional goals. Three-quarters of working moms agree that they’ve had to make personal sacrifices to get ahead (74%), but over half say that the sacrifices that women leaders have to make are not worth it (52%).
  • Almost one-third of working moms indicate that the inability to balance professional goals with being a parent would hold them back from attaining their ultimate professional role (30%).
  • Almost one-quarter of stay-at-home moms say that the inability to afford child-care or elder-care (22%) could potentially keep them from attaining the professional role they ultimately desire.

The market research firm Edelman Berland conducted this online survey of 1,000 American women ages 21 to 33 who were graduates of a four year college or university was conducted May 14, 2013 – May 17, 2013.   The margin of error is +/- 3% (at a 95% confidence level). Percentages may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

For more information, please contact Danny Cohn, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About Zeno Group

Believers in the fearless pursuit of the unexpected, the award-winning Zeno Group operates as one firm across eleven full-service offices in New York, Chicago, Santa Monica, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Toronto, London, Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Singapore, and three satellite offices in Amsterdam, Sao Paolo and Tokyo.  Zeno is the unprecedented 2011, 2012 and 2013 winner of the PR Week US Mid-Size Agency of the Year, 2011 Holmes Report US Creative Agency of the Year and 2013 Holmes Report Consumer Agency of the Year. The firm’s practice areas include consumer, health, technology and corporate, all supported by planning, digital engagement and media.  Clients include: AstraZeneca, Bacardi, Bausch & Lomb, Brocade, Emirates, Facebook, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Kia Motors America, Lipton, McAfee, Micron Technology, Inc., Office Depot, Oak Investment Partners, Pizza Hut, Sears and Seattle’s Best Coffee.  Zeno Group is a member of the Daniel J Edelman Company. Please visit us at zenogroup.com, like us on Facebook or follow us @zenogroup.

About Edelman Berland

Edelman Berland is a global, market research and analytics firm that provides corporate, non-profit and government clients with strategic intelligence to make their communications and engagements with stakeholders the smartest they can be.  The firm specializes in qualitative and quantitative research, measurement, tracking and analysis in reputation, branding and communications.   Edelman Berland is part of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations company.  Edelman Berland has more than 100 employees in offices around the world.  For more information, please visit www.edelmanberland.com.  Edelman Berland: Intelligent Engagement.


[1] Working moms are defined by: have children under 18 and work part-time, are employed full-time, or are self-employed.

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