Gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative
three myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.