Beyond the Selfie: Millennial Women, Generation Revolution

Apr 17 2014

Beyond the Selfie: Millennial Women, Generation Revolution

Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are 77 million strong, 40% larger in population than Gen X. This huge generation is increasingly making their voice heard, as 4 million new Millennials will join the voting population every year between now and 2018.* Over the past decade the media has become increasingly fascinated with Millennials, calling them everything from “generation lazy” to “entitled narcissists” according to a Time Magazine article in 2013, “The ME ME ME Generation.” The tone of the media’s obsession has gone from casually poking fun to downright mean.

We suspected the media had it all wrong. To get to the truth about who Millennials are we conducted an in-depth research study, focusing on Millennial Women, as they are an important audience for AOL. The findings revealed a passionate generation that is already making an impact on cultural issues legislatively, at home, and at work - challenging the conventional wisdom to reveal the media archetypes as arche-hypes.

The Positivity Principal

Why is the media focused on conflicts between the generations, with older generations calling Millennials lazy and entitled? One reason could be that Millennials tend to be more positive and optimistic about everything (including themselves) as compared to past generations. According to the survey, their outlook is more “rose-colored glasses” in contrast to the more “nuts and bolts” Gen X and Boomers. Millennials are significantly more “spontaneous” than “structured” when compared to other women. At work, they fall more towards the “having fun while they work” end of the spectrum versus the Gen X and Boomer “let’s just get the work done and go home” end. For them the boundaries between work and personal are less defined (aided by technology). They like to express their personalities and have fun wherever they are, whether at work or in their free time.

This doesn’t mean they are frivolous or naïve. They are very much aware of what they’re up against. 80% of Millennial women say they’re optimistic about their current standard of living, which is by far the highest level of optimism among generations – and this is despite the economic difficulties they have endured. When we talked to Millennial women in our qualitative study, they expressed personal anxieties such as feeling insecure and nervous, but said they admire those who remain positive no matter how hard life gets. For Millennials, their positivity is hard-won and consciously reinforced. Their positivity is an act of will.

“My models of success are people who remain positive
no matter how difficult life gets.”

What about those other Millennial archetypes we see in the media? The media has said they are lazy and entitled, but are these archetypes representative of the true Millennial or are they arche-hypes? We busted 5 archetypes in our research and as part of this five-part blog series we’ll share our findings taking a deep dive into each.

Next up: Media Arche-hype: Millennius Narcissisus.

*Source: Pew Research Center

About the Research: AOL and Red Lantern Strategy conducted the above study in the Spring/Summer of 2013. We conducted the study in 2 phases. First, we fielded 7-day qualitative digital ethnographies (N=20) among diverse Millennial women ages 18-34 to help us generate hypotheses around the way young women think of social issues, including feminism. The second phases was a 20-minute quantitative survey to N=1682 online respondents. To furnish cultural context and help us determine what the unique experience of being a Millennial and a woman at this moment in culture, we sourced a readable sample across a diversity of ages and across both genders to provide the necessary contrast for analysis.



Tags: Millennials, Women


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