Survey: Young Women Value Career More Than Young Men

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Women are more driven to a higher-paying job, a new study finds. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Women are more driven to a higher-paying job, a new study finds. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Young women have an ambitious edge on their male counterparts.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of young women ages 18 to 34 rated career high on their list of life priorities, compared with 59 percent of young men. In 1997, 56 percent of young women and 58 percent of young men felt the same way.

In a reversal of traditional gender roles, young women now surpass young men in the importance they place on having a high-paying career or profession, according to survey findings from the Pew Research Center.

The past 15 years have also seen an increase in the share of middle-aged and older women who say being successful in a high-paying career or profession is “one of the most important things” or “very important” in their lives.

Today about the same share of women (42 percent) and men (43 percent) ages 35 to 64 say this. In 1997, more middle-aged and older men than women felt this way (41 percent vs. 26 percent).

Though women are increasingly focused on college and career, the share who place marriage and parenthood high on the list of priorities is undiminished. For both men and women, being a good parent and having a successful marriage remain much more important than career success.

Over the course of the past four decades, women have been making significant gains in their labor force participation and educational attainment.

In 2010, women made up almost half of the labor force (46.7 percent). In 1997, women made up 46.2 percent of the labor force, and back in 1970 women made up only 38.1 percent of the labor force.2

There was some speculation that women’s share of employment could surpass men’s during the 2007-2009 Great Recession—often referred to as the “Mancession” because of disproportionate job losses in male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing. However, women have fared worse than men in the recovery that began in mid-2009.

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