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The Next America Culture 2012 / THE NEXT AMERICA

What More Women Want: Money, Success

photo of Stephanie Czekalinski
April 20, 2012

A greater percentage of women than men now say that a successful high-paying career is important to their lives, according to a poll released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

Two-thirds of women ages 18 to 34 rated career high on their list of life's priorities. Less than 60 percent of men said the same. In 1979, 56 percent of women and 58 percent of men felt professional success was important.

A greater share of older women also now agree with their younger sisters. Today, 42 percent of women ages 35 to 64 believe that careers are important. About the same percentage of men agree.

 

In 1997, however, things were different. About the same percentage of men ranked professional success high on their list of priorities. But only 26 percent of women in the same age group did.

In the last 40 years, women have become better educated and begun participating in the labor force in greater numbers; they now represent more than 46.2 percent of working people.

The report points out that there was some speculation that women would overtake men during the Great Recession, because men lost jobs at a disproportionately high rate due to steep losses in male-dominated sectors, such as construction and manufacturing.

That hasn’t happened, the study said, largely because women have fared worse than men in the recovery that started in 2009. Women have also made strides in education--surpassing men in both college enrollment and completion.

Some 44 percent of young women were enrolled in college or grad school in October 2010. Only 38 percent of young men could say the same.

Despite those gains, women still lagged in earning power. In 2010, women who worked full time had median earnings of $669 a week, compared with men who earned $824, according to the report.

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