Leadership and Generation Y: Managing Generational Change and Bridging Gender Gaps

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Generation Y women have grown up in a world knowing nothing but equality of opportunity in leadership and career. They live in a world where more women attend university than men and they have grown up in a culture which has empowered them and equipped them well for this 21st Century. 

The word that defines Generation Y today is "options." Consequently women are delaying and in many cases bypassing the traditional adult milestones of marriage, children, mortgage, and a life-long career. The median age of having a first child is now a few months short of 31. Women are starting families almost a decade later in life than a generation ago, and return to the workforce more quickly. They are global in outlook, technologically equipped, formally educated and optimistic about their future.

The data below shows an empowered generation of women – a generation that is more likely to have finished Year 12 and gained a university degree than their male counterparts, and is healthier, living longer, working harder and volunteering more. However, the gender gap in terms of leadership roles and earnings is still evident, although slowly being bridged. It is likely that it will be Generation Y women, who at the oldest edge are moving through their early 30’s, that will be the cohort to continue these transformations.

They are a generation with expectations of leadership roles early in life. After all, they were equipped with leadership opportunities and training even in their school years. 

What sort of leaders will Generation Y be? According to our research, they will be highly effective. They lead in less structural, authoritarian, command and control styles. They are more collaborative, consultative and communicative than espoused by 20th century management models. Generation Y are re-balancing the leadership equation with a productivity focus and a people centricity – the head and the heart are being effectively engaged to manage diverse teams in these fast-moving times.

The new generation of women: More educated, healthier, living longer, working harder, and volunteering more



Total Population



Life expectancy (Years, at birth)

79.7 years

84.2 years

Overweight and obese



Education: Completed Year 12



Attained university degree (Those aged 25-34)



Hours worked per day (All work, paid and unpaid)

7 hrs 25mins

7 hrs 34 mins

Hours per day caring for children (All parents)

3 hrs 55 mins

8 hrs 33 mins

Volunteering rate (All adults)



Gender gap in terms of leadership roles and earnings is still evident



Labour force participation rate (Aged 20-74)



Employed persons: % working full time



Average annual earnings before tax (Median)



Public service: % of senior executives



Judges & magistrates (Commonwealth)



Federal parliament: % parliamentarians



Private sector: % CEO’s of ASX 200 companies



For related statistics, see our infographic Gender Pay Gap: Male and Female Average Salary by Career and Industry.


ABS, McCrindle Research 2013

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