Katie Cristol, for example, a 27-year-old education consultant in Arlington, says, “I have yet to meet a woman my age who would say, ‘I’ll be perfectly content staying at home raising children.’ We are defined by what we do.”
She does much more in her life than work on education reform: She also takes classes in Latin dance fitness, yoga and resistance training, and enjoys time with her husband, Steve, and their Sheltie with the improbable name of Bear.
One reason she’s able to do all this is that, like an increasing number of millennial women, she works from home. Here in Washington, 9 percent do so full time, slightly more than the national average. These women can talk business in the car while driving to dinner with friends or taking their children to day care. They are changing what work looks like, supported by technology that enhances their abilities to multi-task and build, in a short time, professional and personal connections that last for years.
There are 60 million millennials in America age 21 to 34, born roughly between 1978 and 1991, according to census figures. Half are women.
In the Washington area, one out of every two of those women are employed full time — a higher ratio than the national average — and more than two out of three work either part time or full time. Of those with full-time jobs, 60 percent are college graduates, a considerably higher proportion than the national average. (Unless otherwise noted, statistics on millennial women in metro Washington were provided by Scarborough Research, jointly owned by Nielsen and Arbitron.)
These women appear to be buoyed by a stronger belief in their capabilities than many of their mothers enjoyed at their age. “Some people call it a sense of entitlement,” says Betsy Gressler, 50, who supervises a young staff for the Washington office of Blackbaud, an international software supplier for nonprofit organizations. “Sometimes there’s a layer of arrogance there, but mostly it’s a sense of confidence that I didn’t have.”
A recent hire is a good example. “Emily,” Gressler says, “knows she can do something even if she doesn’t know how at the moment.”
When many of us think of a workday, we envision backing our cars out of the garage between 6 and 9 a.m., reporting to work in an office building, greeting colleagues at nearby desks, gossiping at the water cooler and putting in a few hours at our computers before leaving at 5, the car radio tuned to the latest traffic report.