Millennial women are optimistic about their career prospects: 94% of young (age 22-35) professional females surveyed say they can achieve a balance between a satisfying professional life and a gratifying personal life, according to a survey from Accenture.

Young women identify two primary qualities as keys to workplace success: The ability to balance personal and professional lives, and a job where they can make a difference. 

Below, other findings from Accenture's study, Millennial Women in the Workplace Success Index: Striving for Balance.

Looking for a Meaningful Work Experience

Some 66% of young women define success as doing meaningful work (i.e., "the type of work I want to do"), and 59% cite maintaining a balance between their personal and professional lives. Only 37% cite "being seen as an expert in my field" and even fewer (22%) cite "receiving awards or recognition internally."

Asked to list typical qualities of a successful female business leader, millennial women cite the following:

  • Maintains work/life balance: 70%
  • Flexible: 66%
  • Able to make an impact: 64%
  • Adaptability: 63%
  • Seen as a leader first, woman second: 62%

Combining Quality of Life and Career Growth

Some 70% of young women say they believe they will be successful, and one-third believe they will reach the top of their professions.  Asked to identify the drivers of professional success, they cite the following:

  • Medical benefits: 63%
  • Flexible hours: 50%
  • Classes and training for professional advancement: 37%

Almost half of respondents (46%) say they now have an equal balance of work and personal life, followed by 38% who say they spend more time at work overall but have achieved some personal life balance:

However, young women are divided on whether they would give up personal time for more money or money for more personal time: 46% say they would be willing to give up some of their salary if it meant spending more time on personal life, while 54% say they would be willing to give up time spent on their personal life for more income. 

In addition, millennial women choose quality of life over bottom-line perquisites. For example, in considering factors that affect the decision to accept a job, 65% cite "secure employment" as a key factor, while 49% cite an employer that "encourages work/personal life balance." Only 33% cite "opportunities for bonuses," and 29% cite "investment opportunities, such as a 401K match or profit-sharing."

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Some Traditional Gender Barriers Falling

Millennial women say barriers to professional success are changing. Asked to rank such barriers, just 12% cite marriage and 19% cite maternity policies, compared with 30% who cite pay scale for women.

Millennial women also report that women are increasingly joining the ranks of senior executives: 

  • Only 7% say fewer women are being appointed to C-suite positions and boards of directors than five years ago. 
  • 46% say that more women are being appointed than five years ago.
  • 20% report a lack of women in the C-suite and on boards of directors.

Drivers of Success

Asked to identify what is most helpful in driving professional success, just 16% of millennial women cite "women in company leadership" while 18% cite "having female role models at my company."

More than one-half (59%) cite "a good work atmosphere" and 52% cite "open and honest communications with supervisors."

About the data: Based on Accenture's Millennial Women Workplace Success Index, the findings include the results of an online survey of 1,000 millennial women ranging in age from 22 to 35 who are employed full-time in the US. 

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