International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year and it has been around since February 28 1909. However, I have not properly celebrated IWD since last year, so I was really excited when Stacy Shew invited me to join IWD Breakfast Celebration for Pass the Torch for Women Foundation. It was really motivational to hear the diverse group of speakers such as Pat Roe from USA Funds, Anucha Browne Sanders NCAA’s VP of Women’s Basketball Championships and many more

[1]. Many of the students from Ivy Tech were also in attendance. It was a wonderful way to start the day with fellow women leaders and mentors.

One thing that stuck out to me the most was when Anucha said that she looks forward to the day when there will be no need to have a panel like at the IWD Breakfast to talk about gender equality because gender parity will be both natural and expected. We would finally be able to move on to other pressing issues like world hunger. Just like Anucha, I look forward to the day when gender will be no longer be a qualifier for jobs such as president or physicist. Gender will not be a part of the conversation rather than intelligence, resilience or resourcefulness.

Millennials are known for their progressive thinking and stance on social issues. Millennials want change! We believe and assume that traditional gender roles will end with our generation. We, Millennials, want to believe that we will be able to eradicate traditional gender roles, however, different studies have shown that this notion may be overly optimistic.

According to Harvard Business Review[2], a survey was conducted with Harvard MBA graduates, both men and women, over the years to determine if there has been a change in thinking about women’s careers. At the beginning of Millennials’ careers, both men and women have similar high hopes and values for their lives and careers. However, in the case of female graduates, their outcomes didn’t match their expectations. As the New York Times reports[3]:

“About 60 percent of male graduates who were 32 to 67 years old expected that their careers would take priority over their wives’, and nearly three-quarters of the men said that turned out to be true. About 80 percent expected their spouses to do most of the child care, and that happened for 86 percent of them. Among women in that age group, however, only 17 to 25 percent expected their husbands’ careers to take precedence, but they did so 40 percent of the time. Half of the women expected to handle a majority of child care, but nearly three-quarters said they ended up doing so.”

Something that needs to be pointed out that Harvard researchers did not ask if the respondents believe in gender equality but asked about their gender role. So, the idea is that the Millennials or any other generation will get trapped in the traditional gender roles even if the idea of gender equality is widely accepted.

It is true that we Millennials preach acceptance and equality. However, if real change is to happen, we may need to look at the issue through a different perspective.