One Millenial Woman’s Gender Roles

A Guest Blog for “Talking About Generations”

When Eline Kullock and Ines Schinazi of Talking About Generations asked me about doing a guest post for them, an idea instantly popped into my head. The topic is highly personal – my own experiences in the different roles I play as a female Millennial. My experiences will differ from my mother and grandmother in substantial ways, and not just in the workplace.

I want to put my remarks in context, because I recognize that each Gen Yer is distinct, and I can only tell my own story.

Read the whole post below or over at Talking About Generations (in English and Portuguese).

Who I am: A 26-year-old, Caucasian, college-educated professional working in public relations in marketing. I’ve been married for 10 months to my college sweetheart but we’ve been together for nearly five years. I’m the daughter of two still-married parents who are both in their mid-50’s, and the sister of a 19-year-old college sophomore. My best friends are from elementary school days in my hometown or my college sorority.

My husband and I are both old souls in some ways – and we’re Midwesterners, so getting married in the mid-20’s isn’t unusual, though it’s younger than the U.S. average. One of the things that strikes me about our relationship and those I’ve observed between my peers, is the unquestioned belief in equality between the sexes.

My generation owes a huge THANKS to moms in the 80’s and 90’s who taught their sons not only to do laundry, dishes and clean, but that it was not below them or a “woman’s job.” My husband does the laundry and ironing, and when we have a yard, we agree I will be in charge of mowing.

Another crucial role in Millennial relationships is the new dynamic of female breadwinner and the stay-at-home Dad will become commonplace in just one generation. While too many negative connotations are still nestled in the term “Alpha Female,” the stigma continues to decline as women prove they can be supporters and fathers can be nurturing, strong family men.

I wholeheartedly respect and support my husband’s desire to be a family man before career dude – and in fact, I’m grateful for it, knowing that I can raise the family of my dreams and still pursue my career aspirations full-force.

As an aside, I think the decrease of traditional gender roles in relationship has an inverse relationship with Gen Y’s acceptance of homosexual relationships and marriage. We just frankly don’t care about other people’s choices. If you’re a good citizen, neighbor and parent, who am I to weigh in on your personal preferences?

This is actually my family. Ladies of the Slaven-Demoney clan, starting with Gran on the left, at my cousin's crazy Old West themed wedding.

This is actually my family. Ladies of the Slaven-Demoney clan, starting with Gran on the left, at my cousin's crazy Old West themed wedding.

Millenials are closer to their parents than any generation before them. Bruce Tulgan cites in his 2009 book, “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Gen Y” that, “[Gen Yers’] parents have always been highly engaged with them… Unlike previous generations, they don’t express much desire to break free as they reach adulthood.” It’s increasingly common for young people to live at home longer than previous generations, sometimes even after college. The movie “Failure to Launch” (2006) dealt with this new parent-child dynamic in a comical way, but it’s a real generational issue exacerbated by tough economic times.

It’s interesting that this family model is common in more group-oriented cultures, especially in Latin America, and that multi-cultural Gen Yers feel little shame in living with their best friends, their parents.

My parents are both on speed dial and I e-mail my mother-in-law frequently. I call them for advice on jobs, money, and sometimes for relationship or spiritual advice. They’re my lifeline and support system, my tie to an extended network of family, friends and my hometown. I just wish my Dad would get on Facebook.

It’s no coincidence that “career parents” who are often lambasted for producing a “Me-me-me” generation, also have emotionally stronger ties to their kids than they had with their own parents. There are two sides to that coin, but ultimately, I’m a more productive, contributing member of society with my parents by my side.

Within just Generation Y, I see two dynamics. I’m at a strange spot with my 19-year-old brother. I’m at the cusp of the Millenial generation, born in 1983, and he’s towards the end of it, born in 1989. The age difference is easily seen by simply looking at the MySpace/Facebook phenomenon, and texting.

I had a cell phone by age 16, but didn’t really text until college. His set of friends had phones a few years earlier, and I swear they have more thumb muscles than I do – you think I type fast, watch them text.

Facebook relationships lived and died in a more public way than I ever dealt with, not entering today’s social networking sphere until my college days.

The divide will play out in new ways. My brother is more conscious of his personal image and what he makes available online. “Cool kids” are resisting social networking as it becomes mainstream.

In terms of the roles of being a Millenial sister, I’m honestly not sure yet. I know that I was really excited and proud when my brother trusted me as a confidante for the first time, calling my cell on a weekday morning with girlfriend problems. We have a relationship nurtured by quick “What’s up” texts and the occasional Facebook wall post. As Gen Y continues to grow up as the first “digitally native” generation, means for connection between siblings and extended family will change with us.

Connected Gen Yers have a changing friendship dynamic, and it’s motivated by being a physically mobile generation, able and willing to move across the country for a job or significant other. It’s so easy to nurture friendships through e-mail, unlimited weekend cell phone calls, texts, and accompanying a friend’s life journey through their Facebook photo albums.

Sometimes I lament the physical space between us when I feel so emotionally close to my long-distance friends — and it makes it harder to connect to new friends in a new city. Hybrid online and in-person friend networks are the norm for most of my peers.

Gen Yers value honesty and transparency in friendship, and are less likely to put on a public “face” for the sake of fitting in. Uniqueness is at a premium. Personal expression is crucial. Observe the rise of the personal branding phenomenon, and watch marketers focus in on products that express a design aesthetic that speaks to the customization needs of an expressive generation. I respect friends who are original, have clear views and passions and are willing to share those with me.

Crystal Olig blogs at whY genY, discussing Gen Y issues — reacting to news, research and commentary on her generation. She is a 2006 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.A. in journalism and an advertising major. After cutting her teeth early on in journalism, she moved on to work in public relations and marketing for companies in Denver and Phoenix. A recent transplant to Columbus, Ohio, she’s on her 3rd post-college destination and hopes to stick in the Midwest, and find a job in public relations. You can connect with her on Twitter @sparklegem, LinkedIn, Facebook or via e-mail.


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2 responses to “One Millenial Woman’s Gender Roles”

  1. KB says :

    C! Awesome and insightful article. You are getting out there like a mad woman. As a “long-distance” friend I just want to reach out to in yet one more form by commenting on your article.

    I am so proud of you. Keep, “keeping your chin up.” I’m thinking maybe you have a new calling.

  2. Redemtor says :

    Nice and interesting piece congrats. It has given me ideas for my school paper on changing gender roles and relations. I like the way you have personalised the story and it easily makes the reader identify with it.


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