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Millennials’ Desire for Altruistic Work: Does Gender Matter?

9/20/2017 10:00:00 AM

The findings reported in a recent blog post on Millennials’ Desire for Altruistic Work suggested that there were negligible differences in the desire for altruistic work across generations of Dislocated Worker Program participants. However, one control variable stood out: gender. Industries defined as altruistic – educational services, health care and social assistance, and public administration – are sectors typically thought to employ a larger concentration of women. Are there any differences in the desire for altruistic work between genders across generational groups?

Women dominate health care and social assistance and educational services sectors. Women accounted for about 78 percent of all occupations in the health care and social assistance sector in Minnesota, according to 2015 Census data. Women held about 68 percent of occupations in the educational services sector. Public administration is a near split between men and women in Minnesota.

Since two of the three altruistic sectors are dominated by women, it is clear that including gender into this question may yield some different results. Surprisingly, adding gender to the fold did not yield extremely different findings than the previous study. In the fourth quarter prior to entering the program, seven to 11 percent of men worked in altruistic sectors. Though not a large percentage, this was the only group in which there was growth in altruistic work from generation to generation. In the fourth quarter prior to entering the program, women had about 18 to 23 percent of their participants working in altruistic sectors. This group did not experience growth in altruistic sectors from generation to generation. Baby boomers had the highest proportion of altruistic workers; Generation X had the fewest.

In the first quarter after program completion, 11 to 13 percent of male participants were working in an altruistic sector. Male baby boomers had the highest proportion working in altruistic sectors while Generation X had the fewest. For women exiting the program, 27 to 30 percent of participants, depending on generation, entered an altruistic sector. Millennial women had the highest percentage of participants working in an altruistic sector in the first quarter after completion of the program; Generation X women had the least.

There is little consistency in these findings. No one generation can be recognized as the most altruistic. In all cases, differences among generations were quite small. This suggests again that millennial participants in the Dislocated Worker Program have an average desire for altruistic work. Women had an overwhelmingly higher desire for altruistic work than their male counterparts across all generations.

Another significant finding: All generational groups, both male and female, had a large number of workers move into altruistic sectors after completing the program. This is likely due, in part, to the increase in jobs in the education and health sectors and decrease in others such as manufacturing, utilities, and information (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Women experienced an especially big move to altruistic work after program completion. They saw a five to 11 percentage point difference in those working in altruistic sectors before and after the Dislocated Worker Program, with millennials seeing the largest increase.

John Stevens is a student at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn and a former intern with the Performance Management team at DEED.

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