January 19, 2010 / 2:39 PM / 10 years ago

U.S."Millennial" women believe they can have it all

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Most young women believe they will achieve a balance between a rewarding career and a fulfilling personal life, despite the economic upheaval and a legacy of corporate culture that favors men, a survey shows.

A foreign exchange dealer watches a monitor as she talks on the phone at a trading room in Tokyo January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The online survey of full-time working women between the ages of 22 and 35 years old revealed that they wanted a balance between their personal and professional lives and a job where they could make a difference.

Medical benefits were a crucial part of how they defined professional success, according to the survey commissioned by global management consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture,

Some 63 percent cited medical benefits as crucial to a professional success.

Accenture surveyed the 1,000 women because “we are always interested in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest,” explained LaMae Allen deJongh, noting that globally the company employed 60,000 women.

Women are soon expected to make up half the U.S. workforce and the so-called millennials, those born after 1980, are now one-third of the working population.

DeJongh, managing director of US human capital and diversity at the company, said the survey showed that “one-size is not going to fit all” when it comes to retaining women. Half of the respondents said flexible hours were important to them.

Nearly all, 94 percent, believed they could achieve a balance between a satisfying professional career and a gratifying personal life.

When asked to rank barriers to their careers, 12 percent cited marriage, 19 percent said maternity policies and 30 percent named pay scales.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the median salary for women was 80 percent of men’s. When comparing the median weekly earning of those aged 16 to 34, young women earned 91 percent of what young men did.

Almost 60 percent of the women surveyed reported being negatively impacted by the current economic downturn. And one-third were more concerned with keeping their jobs than achieving the work-personal life balance.

The U.S. unemployment rate remains at 10 percent, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office does not expect it to dip below 8 percent before 2012.

But deJongh said Accenture had seen signs of a nascent recovery with increased calls from clients.

“And in any economy, you always want to attract, develop and retain the best and the brightest,” she said.

Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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