New Study: Mark Zuckerberg is Just Your Average Millennial

working fathers

Mark Zuckerberg doesn't seem like your garden-variety Millennial. But according to a new study, in at least one way, he's positively average.

After a decade of single-minded focus on his career, the Facebook CEO became a dad at 31 - what a study from Stanford calls the median for U.S. fathers at a child's birth. That age puts him squarely in the company of Millennials throughout the U.S. It also marks the latest in a steady uptick in paternal age since the 1970s.

"This trend existed for every single group we looked at," Stanford's Dr. Michael Eisenberg told the Today show. "I thought that perhaps this touched some groups but not others, but really this was universal and that surprised me."

News About Working Fathers

Researchers chalk it up at least in part to professional aspirations. In short, said Dr. Eisenberg, people want to be more settled in their careers before having kids. It also fits with what we know about Millennial men. Study after study shows them planning to spend more time with children than their own fathers. And in the lead up to fatherhood, they're carefully plotting paths to achieve that goal. Right out of college, they're very intentionally choosing employers based on their ability to grow solid careers and financial stability for today; they're also looking at how those organizations treat parents to gauge their prospects for later on.

It all lines up with what we've seen in our own studies; young employees valuing education assistance, loan repayment, and career growth before children; employees willing to leave jobs for family friendliness after. They're also sizing up family friendliness early on: one of our Lasting Impact studies showed that more than half of respondents factored child care into their job decisions, even if they didn't have children...yet.

An Important Conversation for Employers

It also adds urgency to this year's CDC data showing that mothers are waiting longer to have children as well. Taken together, the two cast men and women in the same mold - employees who are delaying parenthood until they've cultivated careers, and so who will be most valuable at precisely the moment they're going out on leave. The potential loss of these employees is doubly good incentive for employers to carefully think through their benefits and offer effective strategies that reach employees at key life stages.

Mr. Zuckerberg famously took two months of paternity leave following the births of both of his children, sending a powerful message to working fathers and other organizations. He's not the only one. Benefits are growing up at the same pace as some fabled entrepreneurs, setting the bar for employers everywhere by replacing ping-pong tables with flashy leave policies. Of course as the bosses of global empires, the folks at the top are able to create supportive places for themselves. Most Millennials aren't so lucky. And they're leaving jobs for family friendlier pastures.

As the king of his castle, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have to go anywhere. But in the absence of family friendliness, it's easy to imagine this average Millennial father would have followed the rest out the door.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.