Women are sick of the way they have been living: giving all of themselves and more and getting too little in return. They’re disappointed by their partners. They’re ignored by their doctors. They’re unsupported by their government. They’re underpaid and underestimated at their jobs, under-resourced in their homes, unappreciated by the very systems that run on their paid and unpaid labor. And they’re over it. In our 2023 State of Women Report, a study conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of theSkimm, 64% of millennial women surveyed told us, “I am tired of trying to be a super mom, super wife, and/ or super employee.” But they’re not wallowing — crucially, women are doing something with their frustration. Quite a lot, in fact. From redrawing their boundaries in work, caregiving, and their finances to lowering their expectations of… anyone but themselves and other women, they are taking action, living differently. From now on, they are prioritizing themselves.
To gather more information about this transformation, we asked Skimm readers what that action looks like for them. What’s something they’ve done in the last three years to transform their lives and rewrite their roles? Among these responses, too, trends emerged. Teachers, in particular, have had it. Many want the option to work remotely. A lot of women broke up with their male partners, and… do not sound sad about it. Overall, our readers’ responses echo what 83% of millennial State of Women participants told us, “I am done letting society dictate what a woman's role should be.” Or, to paraphrase one Daily Skimm reader, sometimes you have to ditch your all-talk boyfriend, book the romantic bungalow for yourself, and swim with the sharks.
Women are prioritizing themselves in their finances and careers.
In our study, 80% of millennial women said they are worried about how the current economy will affect their finances and 66% about how it will impact their careers. 59% are concerned about “Experiencing career setbacks due to inequity of women in the workplace, the wage gap, etc.” 60% agreed, “People are generally not accepting of women advancing into positions of power.” So they are taking action.
Kelly, 40, engineer
I decided during the pandemic to get my professional engineering license, even though I hadn't taken a test in 15+ years. I took the 8 hour test wearing my mask and social distancing at the test lab. With that license, I was able to levy a 54% pay increase the next year at my company.
Abby, 32, former teacher, future dietitian
I quit my soul-sucking teaching job and enrolled in a grad program full time. I'm in my last semester of the grad program and beginning to look at jobs that I am now qualified for with my new degree!
Siobhan Lyons, 27, senior program manager
I was not happy with my job … and I knew I wanted my career to have more impact than making old white men rich. [In the summer of 2020], I went out on a limb and quit my full time role for a part time, temporary internship in the field. During the next six weeks I worked my butt off and showed my worth and was offered a full time position. Since then, I have doubled my salary and secured additional benefits I didn’t have in my previous career path such as flexible time off, fertility assistance and a bonus scheme.
Kimberly, 34, consultant
Astoria, New York
Put together a plan to aggressively pay off student loan debt, save for emergency funds, learn how to start investing in ETFs, and more. Pandemic and current climate has made me realize that these skills were never taught to me or women to begin with and I needed to do something about it.
Becky, 36, director of strategy and analytics
I set my salary floor to be absolutely no less than average for my job, experience, and skills. Then, internally, I talked with other women about what I make to help them do the same.
Anonymous, 35, instructional designer
I quit my job as a teacher and am now working in corporate America as an instructional designer. I have never cared less about a job and its so freeing. (I obviously care, it's just not my sole purpose in life. Now I have time to think about other things I love!)
Anonymous, 32, higher-ed career services
I took a pay cut and title demotion for my mental health. I was in a really awful work situation, had just had a pandemic baby, and was miserable. It was not a great time to make less money, but I have been SO MUCH HAPPIER when I come home from work. I’ll get back to boss ass bitch status some day, but right now I needed to pump the breaks and take a breath.
Alejandra Salas, 33, clinical research coordinator
I will never work in an office full-time again, no matter what salary they offer.
Anonymous, 34, physician
Charlotte, North Carolina
I trained to be a physician for 11 years … and never imagined I would not work full time after all that … A crippling pandemic and devastating pregnancy loss later, I changed my status to part time and it was the best decision I have ever made. While I am incredibly grateful and privileged to even have this option, it was still a choice — to choose me.
Women are prioritizing themselves in relationships.
The pandemic made it clear that the bulk of care work still falls to women, and that came through in our study. 79% of millennial women said they were concerned about the unpaid domestic labor that 76% said still falls largely to women. 73% said they were “overwhelmed” by parenthood and called it “difficult to financially afford.” While 84% agreed, “Men need to step up” and help establish more equality, there was no indication that women see them doing it. So women are taking action.
Cathy, 41, creative director
Queens, New York
Using project management software, I was able to show my partner concrete data suggesting I was performing almost 80% of the household and childcare labor, and we readjusted tasks. It was life changing. I made my invisible labor visible and was able to move a lot of tasks off my plate that were crushing me. It also made it easier to have that conversation with my partner and ultimately made our relationship much better. If you are socialized as a woman, it can feel really difficult to bring up your needs.
Laura, 39, senior marketing manager
Merrimack, New Hampshire
I've stopped saying yes to every request. It's shocked my family. They are learning to be more self-sufficient, but its been a painful process.
Kiah, 43, paralegal
When my partner says “we” should do something, I don’t take it on blindly anymore. If it’s something I agree with, I ask him how we can divide the labor of that task. If it’s not something that is important to me, I tell him to go ahead and do it.
Courtenay Stevens, 34, content strategist
Saratoga Springs, Utah
I've started asking my partner to take on more of the mental load of running our family. Also I've started asking my kids (10B, 7G), "How are you going to contribute to the household today?" This has helped them learn to carry some of the mental load. I hope one day it will make them more considerate partners who can look around, see that something needs to be done, and do it without being asked.
Anonymous, 35, academic director
White River Junction, Vermont
I got a divorce. It was really hard and it sucked at the time, but … now I'm a much better version of myself. I'm happier, I've been able to start a grad program, I'm seeing someone new, and I got a major promotion at work. It's allowed me to be a lot kinder to myself, to be a more present friend, and to learn what I will and won't accept from a partner.
LBB, 34, lawyer
BITCH, I GOT DIVORCED. I left in April ‘19 and it finalized in February 2020. Due to Covid I job-hopped a bit thanks to layoffs, but have now landed at an awesome firm. I found a wonderful partner … And we adopted the most metal dog ever.
Tiffany Brookshire, 34, RN Auditor
I made the hardest, bravest decision of my life in 2022 to come out publicly, separate from my husband, and live on my own for the first time in my life. I have a 14-year-old daughter, and it’s my job to show her that sometimes, the hardest thing and the most right thing are the same.
Lindsey, 36, sales
I no longer am on the hunt for [a] man ... I can do soooo much good and way more positive things all by myself. My happiness and independence is my main focus, anything else that comes along in the meantime that's healthy for me will only be a bonus.
Emily, 37, vendor relations manager
I have decided not to have children. With inflation so high, climate change, and other scary factors contributing to my decision, I just know having children would put a huge burden & strain on my life. I prefer to focus on my own well being by saving money, investing, daily yoga & exercise, and volunteering at an animal shelter. It's one of the few things in my life I feel like I have control over and can make the decision myself.
Women are prioritizing their own health, mental and physical.
77% of millennial women in our study avowed, “It is clear to me that I am the only advocate for my health and well-being.” So they are taking action.
Sarina, 36, sustainability specialist
I have invested in my well-being. I have purchased multiple trainings and online courses: investment training for financial health, women’s coaching for relationships, a program with a nutritionist, as well as a time management and organization transformation course. In total I have spent over $6k. This is outside of art and dance classes, a lot of traveling, therapy and hypnotherapy.
Jessica, 35, management consultant
I started saying no. To events that I previously felt obligated to attend even though I was exhausted from mothering 4 kids, cooking & cleaning, wife-ing, and working full time. To girls lunch when I really wanted to be alone for an hour between clients. To laundry when my mental health needed a long walk on a pretty day. To anything that gives me more stress than I want to handle.
Emma, 26, research coordinator
Boundaries! You get a boundary! You get a boundary! EVERYONE GETS A BOUNDARY!!! Sounds harsh, but it is what has allowed me to keep showing up
Tiffani Domokos, 41, project management
I refuse to “push through” when I’m sick, and I refuse to send my daughter to daycare or ask family for help when she’s sick. I take my sick days and only work when I’m feeling healthy. I refuse to let my job have the best parts of me while my family gets the leftovers.
Lindsay, 34, editorial content manager
Ever since I learned about them, I've wanted to swim with whale sharks. Over the course of several years, a handful of now-ex-boyfriends had promised to do that with me but didn't follow through. So last year, I finally decided to stop … waiting for a partner who would say "yes" to the sharks. I booked myself a solo trip to the Maldives, stayed in a "Romantic Water Villa" by myself, and finally got in the water with the largest fish in the ocean (it was awesome!).
Roberta Condidorio, 36, creative director
I made running a priority — deciding that for those 30 minutes, everyone in my life would be OK without me.
Women are prioritizing each other.
73% of millennial women in our study agreed that they are “worried about the mental health of their female friends after we have all been through so much.” So they are taking action.
Libby, 38, home full time with three kids
Over the past three years, I have prioritized staying closely connected to a group of six good friends from high school. We have been using the Marco Polo app to check-in on each other. This ongoing conversation has become a constant source of advice, cheerleading, counseling, and story-telling. The action we have taken is making time for each other and it has without a doubt helped keep me sane over these past three years.
Kirsten, 33, head of communications
I try to actively say or write complimentary notes about myself, my girlfriends, and other women I work with. We need to get used to hearing positive things about women in general but about ourselves specifically. It's OK to be proud!
Laura, 40, sign language interpreter and professor
2022 was the year I decided to find my people. I started talking to other women at the gym, book clubs, other events. If I found something in common, I'd ask them to get together for coffee and a chat. While some of those connections fell through after only one visit, several of them have lasted. I now have several lovely, supportive, interesting women around me. I can show up at their houses unannounced, babysit their kids, go for coffee or walks, and even go to the store with them. I even have a dinner planned so more of them can know each other.
Reader responses have been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.