Is there too much pressure on millennial women to “achieve it all?”
A Huffington Post feature by May Warren wonders whether there are just too many expectations on twentysomething women who have been told they can – and should – expect a good job and a happy family. But Warren asks: Is it really realistic?
She says “millennial burnout syndrome,” coined by Forbes, is something that needs to seriously be considered.
Once women finish school, they launch into job hunting, often bouncing between contracts that will add to their résumés before looking for a full-time position.
Family goals can get pushed back until women know they’ve got work that can support them through that expensive time.
Other women choose to start families right out of school, possibly putting themselves in precarious situations when they go back to the job market – are jobs available out there? Do they need more schooling? Are they comfortable dedicating the necessary start time in the industry with little ones at home?
Warren points out it’s not a matter of wanting one over the other – it’s just realistic that both take time and dedication and, if not done in the right order, could lessen the chances of the other happening at all.
This piece hints at recent coverage of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” strategy: Speak up! Remind people you’re there! Demand more! Sandberg has been called out for proposing a very unrealistic view for young women. Sure, she was able to do it all. She’s also a billionaire who doesn’t really have the same lifestyle these other women might.
There have been many rebuttals to Sandberg’s advice. Slate’s Amanda Hess said, “Reading Sandberg’s book, it’s clear that women don’t just need to lean in. They need to carefully calibrate the angle of their approach to suit every possible scenario.”
The Atlantic’s Christina Hoff Sommers says “Sandberg seems to believe that the choices of contemporary American women are not truly free. Women who opt out or “lean back” (that is, toward home) are victims of sexism and social conditioning.”
And the fact that earlier this month, Sandberg’s Lean In organization posted an ad looking for an unpaid internship, made the situation even worse – they were called out for not practicing what they preach.
In Warren’s piece, she talks about a 27-year-old woman who’s back in school pursuing a master’s of education. The woman has decided to focus on her career and will “reopen the discussion” on children with her husband when she’s 30, and “they hope to be more financially and professionally established.”
Whether the situation will be any different at that point remains to be seen, though. The issues at the core of the problem – gender equality, job availability, the economy – are in constant discussion and flux.
Are women expecting too much, or is there a happy medium where women can have what they want, and not feel like they have to sacrifice something else to get there?
One thing is for certain: This discussion is far from over.