Posted by: Sydney Shaw | February 7, 2019

Millennial Women

Last class we began the discussion about millennial women and their reasonings for not wanting to lead. The blog post we read for class focused on the idea of perfection and that women are pressured to meet these high expectations society has created. The blog stated, “By the time we’re old enough to seriously consider becoming leaders, the majority of us are crippled by insecurities about the way we look, which we internalize and equate with our sense of worth”. The level of self-confidence and self-worth in women today has been shot down due to women doubting themselves and pointing out all their imperfections.

As it was stated in class, our generation became heavily involved in social media around middle school, a time when our brains are developing and self-image becomes more important to an individual. Women strive to “have it all” in terms of the perfect body, good grades, a perfect romantic relationship, etc. however, an interesting point was brought up in class about the idea of being perfect and having it all can be human nature, involving men as well. Although they may not show it, I think men do strive to reach some level of perfection. I think all people recognize different aspects and characteristics of other people and in some way wish they had it too. People strive for this idea of perfection; however, as Hannah Montana put it, “nobody’s perfect” so where does this desire come from? For some it may come from family expectations, but, for example in my case, it doesn’t. I personally work hard and strive for good grades, strong relationships, and a certain self-image, but if I fall short of meeting any of those expectations, I feel as though I have failed myself. Knowing that my desire to try and be perfect does not stem from my family’s expectations, I begin to wonder if I created these expectations for myself because it is what society expects. What do you think? Have you ever felt this way? Do women and even men hold themselves to high standards because they feel the need to meet the expectations of society?

In a Forbes article I recently read, the author seems to think otherwise about millennial women not wanting to lead. Titling her article, Let them lead: Millennial women are ready to blaze a new trail, Laura Youngkin argues that women are held back from leading due to issues of sexism, ageism, and racism. She discussed how understanding the “pain points” of millennial women at work would allow her to understand how those challenges impact other areas of their lives. She conducted interviews and surveyed women across nine major cities, gathering data to identify popular trends. She found five challenges that occurred nationwide that were expressed as: compensation, work/life balance, advancement and promotions, disengagement, and bias. The women who took her survey were described as, “singularly committed to making a difference in their communities, many of them creating or working towards leadership opportunities with influence and impact”. The article goes more into detail about her project, discussing her findings and what she gained from it all, so I highly recommend giving it a look.

Based on the blog reading from class and the information from this other article, what do you think the issue is? Do you think women feel this intense pressure to be perfect therefore they choose not to lead in fear of what people will think of them? Could it be the opposite in which women want to lead but are held back due to one if not all of the five challenges they face in the workplace?


  1. I really enjoyed this article and definitely agree with you about putting pressure on myself. I am constantly saying, ” Ah my parents are going to kill me if I don’t get a good grade on this test”, but really they are proud of me for just trying my best. They have never said to me that I have to be perfect, or have even told me that I need to work harder. They can see that I put enough pressure on myself, but I don’t see it, so I say its from them.

    I know for me I often don’t want to lead, because I am afraid people will judge me or talk bad about me. It sounds dumb to say out loud, but I am afraid to make a mistake that could give me a bad image.

  2. After our discussion from class last week, the points you made in this post, and the article you provided, there are a lot of different things that really stood out to me. However, I want to reflect on the main quote from your article – ”Millennial women are the most educated group of women in history, a valuable resource for the future of our world. They are ambitious, proactive, and value high work ethic. They desire opportunities to advance based on merit, balance in their personal and professional lives, and the ability to define their own success.” I think like Dr. Guajardo said last week in class, women have always been pushed to achieve this level of perfection. Whether it is from classmates, parents, teachers, friends, or themselves, we feel this need to complete perfectionism. Yet, this quote is kind of the driving force behind what I think is bound to happen with the coming generations. These women in our society are making waves and attempting to overcome a lot of the issues and barriers that have been in their way before. We are educating women, not only in the classroom, but also just in life in general, and helping them to feel empowered. While I don’t think the hurdle of perfectionism will ever necessarily go away, I think that future women are going to be able to handle and overcome a lot of the other barriers that the article mentioned and begin to truly have a larger presence in leadership roles.

  3. I think many people put pressures on themselves which can stem from society’s expectations. But for me, my pressures stemmed from my family’s expectations which later grew into my expectations for myself and I went on to judge people who didn’t live up to them. This was me in high school and I’ve since grown from then, understanding that I don’t know everything about everyone and can’t judge them for their decisions. But it’s still hard because my expectations for myself can be absolutely impossible, but I can’t shake them; not because society is telling me to rise to them, but I feel pressure from my family to rise to them. My family is highly judgmental about everything in everyone’s life, so it’s been hard to break myself from being as judgmental as they are. But when I go home for break, I am met with the scrutiny once more and reminded that I am not living up to their expectations as much as I should be. Meeting their expectations is expected; I must far surpass them to be noticed and appreciated. This puts a lot of strain on a person, as you might expect, because often when growing up, people are told that they can always go to their family and that family will always be there to support you. I don’t always find this the case, and after I found people who did support me for being me, I started to feel better about myself, not because I was being constantly praised, but because they were teaching me to love myself for being myself. That is a hard lesson for anyone to learn, man or woman, and no one is safe from insecurities. But it’s all about perspective and who you surround yourself with to combat those insecurities and rise above it. Only then can you possibly try to lead, and lead confidently.

  4. I definitely agree with you in terms of putting pressure on yourself to be perfect. I think everyone is different and it all depends on how your parents raised you. For me, my parents never expected me to be perfect but they still had high expectations of me and wanted me to get good grades because they knew I was more than capable of doing so. I think that then made me put the pressures on myself and tell myself that I can do better. This idea of societal pressures also applies to men just as much as women. I think it has more to do with personality and how a person was raised rather than gender, although society tends to put more pressure on women in terms of being perfect.

    In terms of leadership, I agree with what Jordan said and that I am also afraid to step up or speak up because I am afraid of others judging me or that I will say the wrong thing. I also noticed that I usually will not speak up unless I am 100% confident in my answer because I am afraid of getting it wrong. I think this just stems from the fact that I am a perfectionist and need to be completely confident before I do something. As far as the issue of women and leadership, I think it mostly stems from not being confident enough in yourself. Women leaders, and all leaders in fact, need to have enough confidence in themselves in take on a leadership role and it is then that they are able to lead their team better and put that confidence in their followers.

  5. Interestingly, I have felt the opposite experience of millennial leadership from what we talked about in class. While I have felt pressures to “be perfect” and questioned my self-competence in issues, these are not millennial issues. As our guest speaker pointed out last week – these are issues that women have been facing for years.

    From my experience, I have only been empowered when looking at the leadership experience of other millennial women. The biggest name that comes to mind is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Having been the youngest women elected to Congress ever, even I had my doubts as to whether she would flounder once she got to office; but, it has been the complete opposite. Her age and familiarity with current trends and fads makes her especially relatable to younger voters and in tune with what young people are looking for in their elected officials. Through her use of social media, a very millennial technology, Ocasio-Cortez has branded herself as a new-age politician who is familiar with her constituency and her community’s needs. Regardless of her stance on politics, she has taken the millennial brand and blazed a new path for herself in politics.

    In my own life, I have seen female leaders, just years older than me, become empowered to lead through their millennial status. A lot of young women have become inspired by current events to create positive change within their companies and fields. In turn, this has proven very inspiring for me, as look to enter the professional workplace environment within the coming months.

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