‘I’m Looking for a Man in Finance’ Trend Is a Sign We Must Invest in Young Women’s Ambition

A new TikTok trend reveals how hard it is to be an ambitious and autonomous young woman.

Millions of people have now watched 27-year-old New Yorker Megan Boni’s satirical TikTok, “I’m looking for a man in finance.” Boni originally created it to make fun of young women who complain about being single, but have a laundry list of unrealistic expectations for potential partners (“6’5,” trust fund, blue eyes”). However, it’s also a revelation about the economic and social pressures of young adulthood today. We can’t see this meme without placing it in the context of growing nostalgia on social media for hashtags like “#tradwife” and “#StayAtHomeGirlfriend.” The song’s success reveals a cultural faultline about what it means to be ambitious and autonomous as a young woman in 2024, and just how hard society is making it for them. 


♬ original sound – Girl On Couch

The song has spawned think pieces about how “Men In Finance are Apparently Hot Again” at a time when women still earn 16 percent less than men. This is also the first year in decades when we’ve seen fewer women in senior leadership positions at major American companies. And it will be 118 years at the current rate until we have gender parity in Congress. Meanwhile, states across the country are rolling back abortion rights even further in the opposite direction

As the chief programs officer for IGNITE, a young women’s political leadership organization, I can tell you that most young women aren’t “looking for a man in finance;” they are focused on the growing threat to decades of hard-fought gender progress in America. But some are thinking about it—even in jest. And the idea is ear-worming its way through our culture right now.

Young women are confused about how to navigate the shifting values of our landscape. They’re looking for a more certain path forward, and those of us seeking to bring out the ambition and potential of young women and girls in America face a major opportunity. 

I work with high school and college-aged women across the country who are curious about developing their political and professional leadership skills. Gen Z is the first digital native generation, and they live and work all day on their phones. They not only consume information there, but they also create content. It’s a concern that there’s this growing discourse online. Of course, I understand that a lot of it is tongue-in-cheek, and there’s humor around it. But there is always some truth behind any joke.

@theycallmestephanie96 #financegirly #latinasinfinance #financebro #financetiktok ♬ Looking for a man tima remix – Tima Pages

American University professor Jennifer Lawless has done extensive research on young women and girls, which shows their ambition about being in political leadership takes a nosedive when they enter college. Her report with Richard Fox, titled “Girls Just Wanna Not Run,” argues that we need to invest in early interventions to fire up young women about running for office. 

It’s not that young women aren’t ambitious. In my experience, Gen Z women are showing up to lead and rising across the country to make their voices heard. Tens of thousands of young people who have participated in IGNITE’s programs are models of political and civic impact. They engage in political actions more than their peers. Ninety-six percent of them voted in the recent midterms and 16 percent plan to run for office someday. They’re running for office and winning. They’re staffing winning political campaigns. They’re working at the White House.

But there is no denying that young women face a host of barriers. 

  • With political ambition as the example, Lawless’ research notes that young men are more likely than young women to be socialized to think about politics as a career path.
  • Meanwhile, from their school experiences to their peer associations to their media habits, young women tend to be exposed to less political information and discussion.
  • Young women are also much less likely than young men to receive encouragement from anyone to run for office, and they tend to think they will be less qualified to run for office—even once they are established in their careers. 

Against this backdrop, we must encourage young women to start creating change at the policy level to alleviate some of the pressures they face around the cost of living, mental health, climate change and student debt. These are all issues that impact their optimism about their futures and their opportunities, and they have the agency to do something about it. In many states around the country, college-age women are already advocating for policy changes and voting on these issues. 

TikTok’s algorithm holds up a distorting mirror that overemphasizes certain Gen Z traits and overlooks others. Good work is often bypassed in favor of what’s funniest and most engaging, yet all of us yearn for something deeper and more authentic. Let’s prioritize that. 

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Tanna Abraham is the chief program officer at IgniteNational.org.