A recent survey from Indeed found that the graduating class of 2016 has an upbeat outlook on the job market. In fact, 86% of new grads are “optimistic” they will find full-time employment within a year, while more than 90% are “hopeful” they will land a job in their preferred field.
This sense of optimism is split almost evenly between the most recent crop of millennial men and women to enter the workforce — and that’s not all they have in common. In many areas, the survey data shows that people want the same or similar things, regardless of gender.
However, traditional stereotypes still persist when it comes to career choice and elsewhere. Let’s take a closer look at the data.
The gender gap remains pronounced in career choices
The differences between men and women were greatest when we looked at occupation preference.
As the chart shows, women show much stronger interest in the traditional “caring professions.” Whereas one in four women express an interest in healthcare, just 11% of men do.
Meanwhile, jobs in business and financial operations come first for men, attracting the interest of nearly one in four male respondents, versus 17% of women.
Among men, the second most popular career choice is computers and mathematics, attracting 22% of respondents. However, only 6% of women report an interest in finding work in this field; their second most popular choice is education, training and library occupations.
Of course, it is well known that STEM careers struggle to attract the interest of women. However, the biggest interest gap between the genders exists not in computer and mathematical occupations where the interest imbalance is 70.8% in favor of men, but in healthcare, where the imbalance is 138% in favor of women.
Men and women united on the importance of location, career advancement
When it comes to considering what they value when considering a career, however, the most recent generation of millennials to enter the workforce have a lot in common.
Top of the priority list for both genders is location, with 65% stating that their future job should be in the city or region that they prefer.
The second highest priority — agreed upon by 46% of both men and women — is that a job should offer opportunity for career advancement.
However, the genders differ in other key areas. Women more strongly emphasize the desire for a supportive team environment (58.4% vs 39.5% of men) and flexible hours (45.6% vs 40.1% of men), while working for a company with a valuable brand is more important to men (20.6% vs 14.9% of women). Similarly, men place a stronger emphasis on finding opportunities to take on challenging work (24.2% vs 19.3% of women).
At this early stage in their careers, however, new grads place little emphasis on having autonomy within their job. Just 7% of men and 6% of women state that as an important factor.
More men than women plan to live with mom and dad
While men and women both rank location as a top priority when it comes to choosing a job, it seems that in many cases that location will be “close to mom and dad.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 2014 was the first year in more than a century that more people 19–34 were living with their parents than with a romantic partner, with 35% of men and 29% of women continuing to live with mom and dad.
According to Indeed’s survey, meanwhile, the numbers are even higher when it comes to the graduating class of 2016. Here, 44% of men and 34% of women say they plan on living with their parents initially after graduation.
Of course, while the media likes to play up the image of feckless millennials who are likely to grow up, it seems more likely that simple economics have a role to play. Strikingly, the figure is highest in the Northeast where, of course, rents are among the highest in the nation.
In New York City, for instance, many millennials are underemployed, working jobs for which they are both overqualified and underpaid. Little wonder, then, that 47.9% of graduates in the northeast plan to economize by staying at home.
Opportunities for millennials are changing
Fortunately for young millennials, unemployment is down. In May 2015, it stood at 8.3% among 20-24 year olds, down from 10.1% a year earlier. Hopefully, many of them should be able to find the jobs they want quicker. However, the gap in interest in fields such as healthcare and tech jobs is worrying.
As research from the Indeed Hiring Lab shows, healthcare and tech are both fields where a serious talent shortage persists. Without more men showing interest in healthcare, and more women showing interest in tech jobs, employers will continue to struggle to fill the talent gap.
At the same time, it is clear that while men and women may differ in some areas, in many cases they want several things in common: conveniently located work (which in many cases may be in the same place where they grew up) that is fairly compensated, and which offers opportunities for advancement.
In that regard, millennials of either gender are not so different from each other — or, indeed, from the generations that preceded them.