Will Generation Z daughters be better off than their mothers?

15 March 2022 | 4 min read | PR
Helen Fripp

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Helen, Associate Director, explores how she’s fared as someone from Generation X (a group born mid ‘60s to early ‘80s) in the predominately female PR and Communications industry.

The sector’s female/male percentage split currently stands at around a 66:34. As an industry, it’s always been ahead of the game in terms of scope for women. Throughout my working life, it’s certainly offered me plenty of opportunity.

I’ve worked in film, arts, electronics, tech and many more diverse industries. I’ve even lived abroad in France, whilst maintaining clients in the UK. I’ve worked full time, rising rapidly in my twenties, and when children came along, I continued my career on a freelance and part-time basis, working not to lose out on status or money.

It hasn’t always been easy, but there’s certainly never been a dull moment. And I’m still trying to make it! An almost unheard-of concept for my mother’s generation, who if they worked at all, mainly worked in low-status, low-paid part time jobs post-children. Don’t get me wrong, we had to break through plenty of glass ceilings, and there’s still a lot of work to do, but I sometimes thank my lucky stars that I was born a woman at this time, in this place.

The opportunities in PR and Communications for someone of my generation were greater than I imagine would have been possible in many other industries. I had a friend who held a senior position in a major ad agency who was barred from entering the building of one of their financial clients as it was a male-only environment. An unbelievable concept to my daughter, who was born in 1999.

It’s widely cited that Generation Z and Millennials will earn less or be less well-off than their parents.

But how about isolating that to a women-only stat?

Over 55 per cent of admissions into university education are now female, compared to only 29 per cent in the 1980s. So, our daughters are much better educated than us. It’s much more likely, and possible, (not to mention socially acceptable) for a woman to be the main wage-earner today.

According to the Resolution Foundation, the gender pay gap has almost disappeared for women in their twenties, whilst for my generation is still stands at around 9 per cent – good news for my daughter and worth all that hacking at those glass ceilings! You would naturally hope that this virtual disappearance of the gender pay gap will follow women in their twenties throughout their careers, but there’s still work to be done around this. Once children come into the equation, the situation is still skewed.

Training, progression and promotion are much harder to come by when working part time, which many women with children either choose to do, or feel they have to because of high childcare costs.

To bring it back to my experience, I’d say there’s no question that it’s difficult to get your career back on track after having children, but in a female-dominated industry, it’s much more common to find flexible working patterns and understanding in PR and Communications. The nature of the business can also lend itself to freelance work.

It seems the cold hard facts don’t always reflect my optimistic vision, however. According to a report by the PRCA, the gender pay gap is most pronounced at the Managing Director and Chairman level, at 27%. Interestingly, however, the gender pay gap is in favour of women at Board Director and Partner levels, so that’s definitely where I’m heading!

And to all those Millennials and Gen Z’s just starting out: don’t despair! Things have changed massively for the better in a generation and you can build on that, just as we did on the foundations our mothers laid. Keep fighting, especially if you choose to have children, to improve equality and opportunity in parenthood for women. It will not only benefit you, but your children, too.