Millennials 6: Attitudes Differ Based on Age and Gender-Sometimes - Ideas for Leaders
Idea #560

Millennials 6: Attitudes Differ Based on Age and Gender-Sometimes

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A global survey of Millennials from around the world looks at the impact of age and gender on attitudes related to issues such as work-life balance, greatest fears, and retirement. (Editor’s Note: This article is based on Part 6 of the survey.)


A new worldwide study of nearly 20,000 Millennials from around the world revealed the vast diversity of a generation that is often mistakenly treated as a homogeneous group with one mind. The survey, co-sponsored by the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, the HEAD Foundation and Universum, highlights differences among Millennials from different regions of the world. In Part 6 of the survey, the research drills down further to reveal how age and gender also contribute to differences among Millennial attitudes.

The survey revealed some core differences between younger (born between 1990 and 1996) and older (born between 1984 and 1989) Millennials:

  • Younger Millennials are much more likely to believe challenging work is work that takes you outside your comfort zone (10% more younger Millennials agreed with this compared to older Millennials). Older Millennials were more likely (by 5%) to identify challenging work with innovative work.
  • Younger Millennials are more likely than older Millenials (by 6%) to see mentoring and coaching as one of the attractive benefits of being a leader.
  • Younger Millennials are more likely to fear not performing up to standards at work (8% more younger Millennials believe this). Both young and old fear no development opportunities and not finding a job that fits their personalities most.
  • Older Millennials are more likely to believe they can retire at 60 (17% fewer younger Millennials expect to retire at 60).
  • Older Millennials are more likely (7% difference compared to younger Millennials) to value a fast-track career with continuous promotions.
  • Younger Millennials are ready to keep a job even if they don’t like it (7% more than older Millennials).
  • On work-life balance issues, younger Millennials (by 7%) were more likely to prioritize their careers — a somewhat unexpected result. That said, the majority of both younger and older Millennials emphasized the importance of spending time with family.
  • For younger Millennials, improving society was a greater priority (by 7%) than for older Millennials.

In general, the responses reflected the life stages of younger Millennials, many of whom are still in school and thus fearful of finding the right job or performing up to standards in their jobs, and older Millennials, already in their first or second jobs and more aware of their qualifications and ambitions.

The survey also revealed some differences between Millennial men and women:

  • Men more optimistic than women (by 5%) about achieving a higher standard of living than their parents.
  • While nearly 50% of Millennials see stress as an unattractive side effect of leadership roles, this attitude was much more prevalent in women than men (a 16% difference).
  • Women and men have the same attitudes about work-life balance. Nearly 60% of Millennials prioritized the importance of having time for a private life, 45% wanted flexible hours, and 45% wanted recognition and respect at work — and there were no significant differences between the responses of men and women on these issues.
  • Women are more likely to fear that they won’t find a job that matches their personality (6% difference with men) and, not surprisingly, that they will be discriminated against because of gender (10% difference).
  • Men are 10% more likely than women to say that they are entrepreneurial.
  • When evaluating the culture of an organization, women (by 12%) are more concerned with issues of equality and diversity than men.


There are a number of different implications that emerged from the study. Differences between younger and older Millennials, for example, indicate that:

  • When on-boarding younger Millennials, employers should address their fear of underperforming at work.
  • Employers should find ways to accommodate the interest of younger Millennials in coaching and mentoring and their commitment to making the world a better place.
  • Employers should ensure that older Millennials are involved with innovation in their companies.
  • Employers striving to retain their best employees should be aware that older Millennials are less likely to stay in a job they don’t like.

Concerning gender differences, perhaps one of the strongest messages received from the responses of men and women is that those differences are not as great as commonly believed. Both men and women are committed to work-life balance and, specifically, want more family time. Although women, by a slight margin, emphasized work-life balance a bit more, for the majority of Millennials, these are not just women’s issues — and employers should not treat them as such.

Perhaps the major difference between men and women was the issue of stress in leadership roles. Millennial women were much more likely (by a significant 16%) to see attaining leadership roles as unattractive because of the accompanying stress. As employers move to increase the participation of women in high levels of their organization, this is an issue that must be addressed.



Our Evolution… How Experience Changes Millennials. Henrik Bresman. Part Six of Understanding a Misunderstood Generation (2014). 

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Idea conceived

October 27, 2014

Idea posted

Oct 2015
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