While we're often criticized for being "special snowflakes," Millennials are truly coming of age in a world of digital globalization that is hard to deny is unique to our generation. But, when it comes to Millennials and gender bias in the workplace it turns out we're not as different as we think. A new survey reports that the Millennials have absorbed and reinforced institutional sexism and gender bias as much as previous generations.
Survey software company Qualtrics recently partnered with venture firm Accel to survey more than 8,000 Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers about everything from lifestyle, importance of religion, marriage and relationships, and more. While the survey reveals that Millennials are far more optimistic about the future (and the present) than Xers and Boomers, it also shows that despite touting equality on social media, Millennials are twice as likely to label men as more effective leaders than women; and older Millennials (ages 29-34) are three times as likely to say men are more effective in leadership roles than women. Surprised?
What's more is more 50 percent more men than women say gender discrimination in the workplace has an effect on their career opportunities. You read that right. 50 percent more Millennial men than women surveyed believed that they are being held back at work because of their gender. Um, what?
OK, I know I've used this as an example of institutional sexism before, but it is the clearest and most compelling demonstration I have ever come across to educate men about the challenges women face at work because explaining it over and over again just doesn't seem to be working, and I'm starting to lose my voice. The viral Twitter thread about two co-workers who switched email signatures for a week illustrates the extra obstacles workers face while being female, and any man who claims he is experiencing sexism at work likely does not understand the definition of sexism, which most often affects women and non-binary people.
So, for men who don't know, here it is courtesy of the Oxford-English Dictionary. Sexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex [gender].
The survey also reports that only 17 percent of both Millennial men and women surveyed think women are more effective leaders than men, and 14 percent of women, and 38 percent of men, think men are clearly better leaders than women. Additionally, 72 percent of Millennial men reportedly prefer to work with their own gender while only 66 percent of women report the same.
Political affiliation plays into gender bias too. The survey says that Democrats are three times more likely than Republicans to report that gender affects their career opportunities. If you were on Twitter on International Women's Day, or Equal Pay Day, you'll see the tweets to reinforce this — many from women who claim we live in a post-sexist society, and that the wage gap is a myth liberals invented to make women feel bad. You know, because we're not busy enough trying to stop Donald Trump from destroying the world.
And, if you think this is a bunch of malarky, there's more. While when asked directly, or on social media, Millennial men seem to have our backs, but Bustle published an article in 2016 that backs up the current survey, reporting that one study found that male biology students consistently overestimate the ability of their male classmates and underestimate their female classmates; young men might actually be less open to the idea of a female leader than their fathers are; more than half of all Millennial men don't think we need more gender equality in the workplace; and half of all Millennial men assume their careers will take priority over their wives'. And, if that's not enough, half of Americans surveyed the Pew Center's American Trends Panel believe sexism is no longer a problem in our society.
This is in line with something else the study reports — many Millennials say one thing and do another. While many are touting equality in public reality paints a different portrait.
"More than any other generation, millennials know how to curate a personal brand and project it through social media," the survey details. "Millennials like to portray an altruistic image online but many struggle to line up their online brand with their offline life."
Case in point: The United States ranks 23 out of 30 for gender equality in developed nations. Unfortunately we still have a long way to go close the gender equality gap; and remember that just because someone says they believe in gender equality, words can be hollow. The real test if when they are forced to back up said words with action, because saying and doing are miles apart.