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The SheHawk: Gen Z, millennials, and the search for more

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The SheHawk: Gen Z, millennials, and the search for more

Gabriella Dionisio, Staff Writer

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Gabriella Dionisio is a senior studying English and journalism. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Gabriella can be found on Instagram @gabrielladionisio. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to vcw6007@uncw.edu.

When I was a little girl, there was nothing that excited me more than searching through my mom’s closet for a striking pair of high heels. I felt beautiful and strong in these shoes that were many sizes too big and forced me to walk with bent knees to keep my balance. On the first day of my summer internship, I went into my closet in search of the pair that would give me that same sense of purpose. As I slipped them on, I thought of my kid self and how proud she’d be to know I could finally stand with ease.

As women, there is something about high heels that make us feel empowered. Maybe it is the klick-klack sound that vibrates from beneath us or the inevitable strut we find ourselves doing. Or maybe it is the media we grew up with that, whether purposefully or not, showcased women in expensive power suits and glamorous shoes. As a kid and into my adulthood, I equated heels at work to success and power.

To this day, my automatic vision of the “ideal careers woman” is one dressed to the nines with sharp shoes, of course, and an incredible view of the city skyline from her office. But is this still the case? Do millennial and Gen Z women want business professional clothing with the goal being at a top floor office? Some do, maybe. But according to Ann Shoket, former Editor in Chief of Seventeen and author of “Badass Babes,” the large majority of women don’t.

In preparation for writing her book, Shoket hosted hundreds of millennials at her home to get at the core of what this new wave of women wanted.

“[They] want freedom. Freedom from the office, the old ways of doing things, and want to work how they want, when they want, and where they want,” she shared in an interview with NBC News.

I can already see my parents and others in their generation rolling their eyes at such a comment — cue the entitled millennial debate. But what she found is similar to what I’ve observed in myself and in many of my girlfriends. Women are leaning towards work that requires less time spent at a desk and more towards the flexibility to work remotely.

“Employees are pushing companies to break down the long-established structures and policies that traditionally have influenced their workdays,” according to one New York Times article.

As a writer, the most stifling setting, for me, is a desk. And I can imagine that for many creative fields, a sense of pain comes with feeling confined. In the tech-driven, self-branded world we live in, some don’t feel a need to conform to the traditional nine to five and would rather build their own business from the ground up. Some are pushing for this flexibility so that work isn’t put on hold when they decide to have a child, while others crave this type of environment in the hopes of mastering a work-life balance.

The shift in professional climate speaks to the way in which women are demanding more than what’s been given in the past. We are reaching for what we deserve and refusing to settle for anything less. Shoket also found that in addition to this kind of freedom, there are two other non-negotiables that women are standing firm in.

We are determined to find a career that brings both purpose and passion and we want a partner who honors and respects our ambition.

Since the #MeToo movement, the world has seen that women are no longer staying silent. We are willing to fight for what’s right and chase after what we want. It should not be taken lightly that we are living in a progressive culture filled with people working to foster a woman-friendly climate. So, whether you strap on your heels each morning or kick them up on the couch, all that matters is that we continue to shatter that damn glass ceiling, stand up straight and continue to show up.

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The SheHawk: Gen Z, millennials, and the search for more