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Are millennial women more prepared to have kids and a career than their mothers?

A survey of Harvard Business School Alumni found more college-educated millennials plan career breaks for family than older generations did.

A survey of Harvard Business School Alumni found more college-educated millennials plan career breaks for family than older generations of women did. Flickr/ Creative Commons/Brian Wolfe

Though millennial women are having babies at the slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history, there is evidence, recently laid out in the New York Times, that many of the ones who do are quite prepared.

Rather than give up their jobs or forfeit time with their kids, many millennial women are building a career gap into their life plan, the Times writes. Though its been two generations since women entered the workforce in droves, an ideal option for working mothers has yet to be created, so even those with high career aspirations are looking for flexible jobs or scheduling time to scale back.

A recent survey of Harvard Business School alumni found college-educated millennials are planning career breaks for family more often than older generations of women did. Released as part of the school’s new gender initiative, the study found that 37 percent of millennial women and 42 percent of those already married plan to interrupt their career for family, compared with 28 percent of Generation X women and 17 percent of baby boomers.

Why the shift?

Another survey of millennials who are college-educated professionals points to a generation cognizant of their parents’ struggle to choose between working full time or leaving the workforce entirely to raise children. Laura Sherbin, director of research at The Center for Talent Innovation, where the survey was conducted, told the Times millennials see “the downsides in both choices,’’ and are looking for a new option.

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Interestingly, the Harvard study also found that, despite all their planning, millennials are more discouraged than their older counterparts about their ability to blend work and family, with fewer young women expecting careers equal to that of their husbands. Maybe they’re just being realistic?

After all, a Pew Research Center study found 58 percent of working millennial mothers said being a working mom made it hard to get ahead, compared with 38 percent of older women. If you’re a working mom in Massachusetts, however, maybe your chances of finding work-life balance are a little better. A recent WalletHub study listed the Commonwealth as one of the best states for showing working mothers appreciation when it comes to childcare, professional opportunities, and work-life balance.

At least when women are scaling back, they seem happy with their choice. The Pew study also found that 90 percent of working moms who reduced their hours or took a significant amount of time off from work to raise a family were glad they did so.

You can read the full Times article here.

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