Despite the loudest protests of radical feminists, new reports show that millennials are more likely to accept traditional gender roles than the previous generation. Initial assessments have been fueled by controversy, but millennials may be more proving to be more rational than our predecessors have argued.
According to a new study that looked at nationally representative longitudinal data about high-school seniors as part of a Gender and Millennials Online Symposium, in the last 20 years there has been a significant increase in those who believed that families were better off if the men were “the achievers outside the home” and the women handled most “home” and family duties. In 1994, only 42 percent of high school seniors agreed with that statement. Now, that is the majority view at 58 percent.
Don’t take this to mean millennials are sexist. Despite some publications who have recently made that assessment, this study actually shows more than 90 percent of millennials believe women should have “exactly” the same opportunities as men in business and politics — it’s only home life that inspires significantly more traditional opinions.
“We thought that as women entered the workplace, as they gained more access to income and their days started to look more like men’s, that that would translate to more equality in the home…” said Joanna Pepin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland who co-authored the study. “But that’s really not what these attitude trends are showing.”
Now, why that has occurred can be contributed to a lot of different factors. One author of the study, David Cotter of Union College, suggests that these changing attitudes have a lot to do with the fact that men “are not doing nearly as much as women are.” With the gender revolution, the number of women in the workplace increased significantly, but the number of responsibilities at home did not decrease. So, women are working two jobs: one at home, and one at work. It’s not difficult to see why millennial women will choose a different path than that.
Cultural and economic influences might play a large role as well. Millennials are the generation raised by working mothers. Perhaps some are rebelling. Economically, millennials are the first generation in several generations to be considered less well-off than their parents. The growing price of childcare paired with the inflexibility of a stagnant market is leading many to reexamine their career paths.
Studies will continue to examine which family dynamic benefits children the most, and we can assume competing narratives will emerge for years to come. One thing is for sure, though. Despite radical feminism suggestions otherwise, and leftist agenda pushing “gender neutral” society, studies like this are proving gender attitudes are less than monolithic.
“Young people appear to be moving toward the belief that men and women are equal but they’re essentially and inherently different,” Pepin says.
The belief that genders are inherently different? Well, that may be the most controversial opinion revealed by this study.