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Opinion: Why are young women more ambitious than men?
A Pew poll reports that two-thirds of young women say that "being successful in a high-paying career" is an important life goal.
April 30th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Opinion: Why are young women more ambitious than men?

Editor's note: Kathleen Gerson, author of "The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family," is a professor of sociology and collegiate professor of arts and science at New York University. She is a 2011-2012 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

By Kathleen Gerson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In a headline that calls out for attention - "A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations" - the Pew Research Center reports that two-thirds of young women now say "being successful in a high-paying career or profession" is one of the most important goals in their lives.

While it may not be surprising that these women express more ambition than their mothers and grandmothers, it is surprising when they also display more ambition than their male peers. Is this a sign, then, that we are witnessing "a gender reversal"? Or does it represent a kind of denial - on the part of young women and men - about the obstacles they will ultimately face at the workplace and in life?

In the same poll, marriage and parenthood remain important life goals for all young adults, with 86% of women and 82% of men listing marriage as "very important" or "one of the most important things" in life. Children are even more desired, with 95% of young women and 90% of young men placing "being a good parent" in these same categories.

Yet young people's actions, at least when it comes to family commitments, appear at odds with these stated aspirations.

Read Kathleen Gerson's full column

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Filed under: Age • Gender • Girls • What we think • Women
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Albert

    Actually, Tom, population is not grinwog exponentially. In industrialized nations, not counting immigration population is actually shrinking, and as more nations industrialize their population growth rates are leveling off, with more nations' growth rates heading toward negative territory. It's a complicated world, and the population trends are correspondingly complicated.

    August 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gung hoe

    You got that right steve.The church that I attend is composed of almost all women,their husbands are at home or doing other things

    May 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Name* Steve Stephens Jr.

    The real issue: lack of God & fathers. Or should I say lack of God IN fathers.

    May 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    Iam sorry its cnn blogs this just in

    April 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gung hoe

    @ racesmyth theres a guy over on cnn news blogs that you would enjoy talking to his name is joey.Have you ever checked out that site?

    April 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gung hoe

    You hit it right on the nose racesmyth, not much to be added.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raceisamyth

    Start a revolution of love. And whether you like it or not the self hating white man and self hating Jew are coming to the table with us. No one is being left out anymore!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. raceisamyth

    Drop the sociology and try some geneology.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. raceisamyth

    Are they more ambitious really? Just because you say so? There are plenty of nonambitious women and ambitious men. And vice versa. Its never only 2 sided.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |