• Home
  • Articles
  • Leadership and Generation Y: Managing Generational Change and Bridging Gender Gaps

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

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

Male Female
Total Population 49.4% 50.6%
Life expectancy (Years, at birth) 79.7 years 84.2 years
Overweight and obese 69.9% 55.2%
Education: Completed Year 12 84.1% 87.8%
Attained university degree (Those aged 25-34) 29.7% 40.3%
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) 34.4% 38.1%

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

Male Female
Labour force participation rate (Aged 20-74) 79.0% 65.2%
Employed persons: % working full time 86.4% 56.7%
Average annual earnings before tax (Median) $61,776 $55,952
Public service: % of senior executives 60.8% 39.2%
Judges & magistrates (Commonwealth) 69.1% 30.9%
Federal parliament: % parliamentarians 70.8% 29.2%
Private sector: % CEO’s of ASX 200 companies 96.5% 3.5%

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


ABS, McCrindle Research 2013

For more information

If you found this article interesting, download our free Understanding Generation Z Report and Infographic for more information on how to recruit, train and lead the next generation.

For media commentary contact us on 02 8824 3422 or at [email protected]

Generation Y Infographic

Gen Y (born 1980-1994), often referred to as millennials are well into family forming years and are major contributors to the workforce. In this infographic we give an overview of their characteristics and traits.