Queenagers: Pioneering Women Shaping the Workplace Landscape

"Revolutionary Women of the 1980s: Leading the Charge for Empowerment in the Future"

Latest Updates: In the ongoing discourse surrounding women's progress in the workplace and the strides yet to be made, there is a key group that often goes unnoticed – the Queenagers. These are women in midlife who embarked on their careers in the 1980s, a decade when the "glass ceiling" was identified, and breaking through it became an ambitious but daunting goal for corporate women. As many of these seasoned female executives now exit the workforce, they challenge the notion that a one-size-fits-all approach applies to every phase of a woman's professional life.

To comprehend the challenges that women face today, it is vital to acknowledge the accomplishments of Queenagers and how the playing field has shifted since they first made inroads into a male-dominated business world. Queenagers typically range in age from 45 to 65, boasting relatively high incomes and the freedom to make choices that suit their current life stage, either beyond their child-rearing years or by choice as they opted not to have children.

A dedicated website called Noon coined the term "Queenagers" and describes this group as being in the "age of opportunity." Unlike their younger colleagues, who are juggling careers with raising families, Queenagers enjoy a higher degree of autonomy and spending power. However, what they value most is their freedom.

Eleanor Mills, the founder of Noon, points out that this cohort of women is comprised of pioneers – the first generation of women who persevered in working throughout their lives.

The question now is whether the rising corporate women of the new generation will fare as well, and how can successful Queenagers demonstrate solidarity with younger women and guide them towards their own successes?

For women, a critical phase often revolves around successfully navigating the years of balancing careers with raising children, coupled with the substantial financial costs involved. This issue is exacerbated by the persistent gender pay gap, as per the International Labor Organization, which shows that women still earn on average about 80% of what men do.

The number of women in the workforce has stagnated since the turn of the century, even with the latest return to pre-pandemic participation levels. And at the heart of this stagnation is the issue of pay.

Focusing on mothers and caregivers, it is astounding that it is only this year that The Pregnancy Workers' Fairness Act has become federal law in the US, updating rights for expecting employees. In the UK, the Pregnant Then Screwed campaign fought and won a battle against discriminatory income tax practices for pregnant women.

Childcare costs further erode livable income. In the UK, they are the highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), despite clear evidence of the positive impact of early years provision on labor force participation, with Iceland leading the list.

Both the logistics and cost of childcare present hindrances for working women and their families. Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University, and author of Career and Family: Women's Century-long Journey to Equity, conducted a study on male and female MBA graduates at the University of Chicago Booth University between 1990 and 2006. She discovered that the growing gap in earnings emerged with the arrival of children, as caregiving responsibilities impact women's job experience.

For women in the Queenager age range, flexibility is sixteen times more important than status, according to Noon's findings. This priority far outweighs the desire for reaching the corner office or receiving swanky titles as rewards for seniority. For many who have worked in corporations for decades and have the financial resources, starting their own company or consultancy provides the flexibility and autonomy they crave.

So, how can Queenagers assist younger workers who are currently navigating the challenges of raising families while striving to advance in their careers? It could be as simple as reassuring them that they, too, can achieve their goals. Or, it may involve investing energy into hard-fought campaigns, such as Pregnant Then Screwed, or joining corporate boards and organizations to promote policy changes.

Despite the challenges, there are green shoots of optimism. One such positive aspect is that, in 2023, men and women are not vastly different in what they seek from their careers and work experiences. According to a recent survey by research firm Opinium, both men and women are neck-and-neck at around 70% in feeling a sense of belonging at work, although over half of both genders admit that they can't always express themselves freely.

In this aspect, men and women are equal – both desire open discussions about how they feel at work. Let's ensure that the dialogue, led by Queenagers and others, continues to transform the workplace into a fair and equitable environment for everyone.