Women across generations: expectations and aspirations

 Almost every week there is a new headline about women’s position in society: on unemployment, parenting, women having or not having ‘it all’, the gender pay gap, and women’s representation in politics and on company boards.

And while there has certainly been progress for many women in the UK – as shown by more women entering the workforce and gaining educational qualifications – persistent challenges such as the pay gap and under-representation in many areas of society remain. This, alongside dynamic social and demographic trends, highlights the diversity of families in today’s society.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is undertaking new and exciting research to consider how these changes impact women across and between generations. Women now in their 40s, 50s and 60s were told they could ‘have it all’ but life turned out much harder. Their mothers were expected to be grateful for the life they were given, rather than the one they grasped. But do their daughters have more in common with the ‘be grateful for what you are given’ generation than the ‘have it all’ generation? Or are today’s teenage girls soaked in a celebrity-inspired, ‘get rich by getting famous’ culture, just when they are entering the toughest labour market for young women since records began?

IPPR’s research is focused on generating a better understanding of attitudes and expectations of women across generations. It will explore how people relate to one another in the context of the family, particularly between and within generations. It will also consider how this links to the current policy framework.

This project is kindly funded by L’Oreal.