The attitude of the millennial generation (those born from 1982 to 2003) that will have most impact on the daily lives of Americans is the distinctive and historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles in society. This belief stems directly from millennials' experience growing up in families in which the mother and father took on roughly equal responsibilities for raising their offspring. As men and women enter the workforce on an equal footing, this generation's belief in gender neutrality will force major changes in our laws governing the work place and its relationship to family life.
Historically, "civic" generations like millennials have tended to emphasize distinctions between the sexes, while "idealist" generations, such as today's boomers, have advanced the cause of women's rights. This includes the transcendental generation that founded the feminist movement in the 1840s, the missionary-generation suffragists in the early 20th century, and of course the boomers who revitalized the women's movement in the 1960s.
By comparison, as Neil Howe and William Strauss, the founders of generational theory point out, the 18th-century civic republican generation, which included many of our founders, "associated 'effeminacy' with corruption and disruptive passion, 'manliness' with reason and disinterested virtue." During World War II, as the men in civic-minded 20th-century GI generation joined the military, many women went to work in America's factories, assuming jobs traditionally held by males. But at war's end, willingly or unwillingly, most of Rosie the Riveter's sisters returned to their traditional roles as wives and mothers.