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What 20-something women want. (And why you should care.)

A recent study shows Millennial women want independence but also seek multiple perspectives – a refreshing counter to this polarized political climate. Pay attention: Self-determined, networking Millennial women will alter the world we know.

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For instance, our research found that 96 percent of Millennial women worldwide list being independent as their most important life goal. This ranked above marriage, motherhood, home ownership and other, more traditional pursuits as essential to one’s feeling successful. Eighty-seven percent of women surveyed define success as being able to “shape my own future.” This is a generation of women who understand that there is no one-size-fits-all life plan. Everyone is charting her own journey.

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This in no way implies that Millennial women don’t want children, life partners, real estate, or wealth. What it does mean is that they no longer feel they need to achieve these traditional milestones in a particular order or by a particular deadline. Rather than “having it all” (as previous generations of women often hoped for), Millennial women want to try it all and make their major life choices accordingly.

Along with this different, more individualized idea of what a life path should be, Millennial women told us that they seek guidance in different ways than previous generations. We asked whom they turn to for mentorship and learned that today’s twenty-something women most value communal exchange, regardless of age or professional experience. Ninety-four percent of Millennial women agreed that the best mentors are people whom you can both give advice to and receive advice from, regardless of age. This is a clear break from the ages-old “wise mentor counseling young protégé” model of mentorship. In a complex, high tech, globally connected world, this has become a wise strategy.

So what does this mean for us?

So what do these findings mean for Millennial women, and for the rest of us? How will young women’s personal choices affect the greater world?

We will see ambitious, unfettered young women start businesses and social ventures that solve some of society’s most pressing problems. We will see Millennial women’s increased confidence and independence lead to new voices in our creative culture, as young women feel less of a need to “pay their dues” before sharing their art with the world. And we will see entire communities change and evolve, as Millennial women use their vast networks to share information and ideas across generations, ethnic groups, and other affiliations.

Related: Taking the artistic pulse of Generation Y

Are Millennial women perfect? Of course not. Do they sometimes make mistakes because they are young? Absolutely. Might they change as they get older? Most of us do. But there is no question that they are full of more potential, confidence, and opportunity than any previous generation of women. And those are characteristics our country and our world need right now.

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So, if the recent election season has left you feeling confused, concerned, or anything in between, take a lesson from Millennial women: think independently and consider multiple perspectives as you navigate your life path. Share your experiences and advice broadly. And take some time to listen to the twenty-something women in your life. After all, the names of Millennial women may be the ones on our election ballots sooner than we think.

Lindsey Pollak is an author, corporate consultant, and expert on next-generation career trends. She is the lead collaborator on Levi’s “Shape What’s to Come” research, which created an online community,, as a place for Millennial women to collaborate, innovate, and engage.


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