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Gen Z’s ‘Lazy Girl Jobs’ is a rebuke of the Girl Boss and Lean In crazes that gripped millennials



“Lazy girl jobs are my favs, all I do is copy and paste the same emails, take three to four calls a day, take my extra long break, take more breaks, AND get a nice salary.” 

So reads the text splashed across TikTok user @raeandzeebo’s video, taking her 1.3 million viewers for a spin in her office chair. It’s accompanied by the hashtag #lazygirljob, which has been used over 17 million times, typically depicting similar selfie-style videos of young female workers at their desks expressing a similar sentiment.

“I love my lazy girl job,” another TikToker exclaims. “I don’t have to talk to people, only come to the office twice a week. Literally just to punch in some numbers, eat candy, catch up with coworkers, and make a decent salary.”

A lazy girl job (LGJ) is typically a non-technical role that requires little interaction with colleagues and mainly entails repetitive tasks like responding to emails or drafting documents from templates—think an affiliate marketer or customer success manager role. It checks off the basics: safety (no physical risk), flexibility, good benefits, a base salary that covers one’s lifestyle expenses, and minimal stress. It also offers “clearly defined roles where responsibilities are not likely to change,” says Gabrielle Judge, 26, a self-described former lazy girl job holder and now content creator behind the “Anti-Work Girl Boss” brand, from which she advocates for LGJs and dispenses Gen Z-oriented career advice.

The goal of an LGJ is to find balance and decenter the 9-to-5 grind, she explains, ensuring that the mental energy—and overtime hours—that would otherwise be wasted on an unappreciative employer can be rerouted to the things that matter: Passions, family, travel, social life. 

A reaction to the hustle culture and burnout that defined the 2010s, the LGJ is the latest trend sprouting from Gen Z’s anti-work and anti-capitalist attitudes. Remote work, an unforgiving economy, and frayed professional connections left Gen Z prioritizing work-life boundaries and averse to the grind culture that gripped millennials. The trend is a retaliation to its similarly gendered work trend foils of the decade prior: the “lean in” and “girlboss” eras, which were defined by encouraging women to constantly swim upstream to achieve career success. LGJs may suggest it’s possible to be a “girl boss” while resisting the compulsion to go above and beyond at work.

Women “are tired from putting in all the effort, breaking glass ceilings. It’s really discouraging when the guy next to us gets the job or promotion,” says Anvi Barman, a former product manager who founded Generation She, a career support and networking platform for Gen Zers. The idea, in her view, is: Why not be a little lazy if it gets the same outcome as being proactive?

“We don’t want to be lazy,” Barman tells Fortune. “We just don’t want to work so hard in a system that’s working against us.”

The Girl Slacker is ready to lean out of the Girl Boss

The LGJ trend isn’t so much a step backwards to 1950s-era, Mad Men-esque “women’s jobs,” as it is a reaction to the 2010s-era grind, says Suzy Welch, author and management professor at NYU Stern School of Business with expertise in leadership and career development. Working women in the 1950s—secretaries, assistants to powerful men, etc.—didn’t want to be pigeonholed in those roles. “They had their noses up against the glass and were, like let us in!” she tells Fortune. “But they were relegated to meaningless jobs.”

Women have since worked hard to break free of that mold. The feminist movement of the 1960s helped bring more women into the workforce and saw The Equal Pay Act, the working woman became popularized in 1990s pop culture with TV shows like Sex and the City and Murphy Brown, and the women’s empowerment movement came to a lucrative fever pitch in the 2010s as the Lean In and Girl Boss eras converged. Both Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso and then-COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg offered their respective millennial and Gen X female peers different paths to pursuing ambition in the workplace. The mindsets swept working women by storm.

But almost every notable girlboss tumbled out of the C-suite in rapid succession in June 2020. And while Sandberg called her book a “sort-of feminist manifesto,” today’s young workers say leaning in is hardly an option for most women. Their response—an LGJ, Welch says: “Okay, Sheryl, we tried leaning in and we don’t like it. We have decided to lean out.”

Welch imagines Gen Zers feel that nobody owns you when you lean out. “When you lean in, your company and career starts to own you,” she said. “They’re pushing back, saying, ‘not so fast, not sure I want that bargain.’” 

Gen Z is hardly the first cohort to resent their bosses, but entering the workforce during an unprecedented global health crisis made them less restrained than their predecessors in fighting for what they want at work; the brashness of “lazy girl” in the same sentence as “jobs” lays bare their disregard for niceties.  

Younger workers struggle with ambition out of college because they don’t connect deeply with their professional work, Paul Tripp, a business coach at management consulting firm AceUp, tells Fortune. The disconnect between their vision and corporate’s vision isn’t motivating them, he said, making the job “literally just a paycheck.” 

That’s not such a bad thing, according to Judge, the Anti-Work Girl Boss. Her Gen Z audience watched millennials be “guinea pigs” to the wrenching economy they inherited, she says, and it left them with an “existential anger.” Through this lens, desiring an LGJ isn’t a generational step backwards so much as an outright acknowledgement that work isn’t all there is. 

Gone are the days when people knowingly sign up for jobs that require late nights or weekends, even in high-intensity sectors like tech, says Tiffany Dyba, a career coach and recruiting consultant. She adds that her clients are always asking her how they can find meaningful jobs that won’t leave them falling asleep with their work phone on. “With the act your wage mentality, I think we’ve all been there—especially women—being paid garbage and killing ourselves for a job that was thankless,” she says.

But although LGJs are meant to be accessible, getting one requires levels of innate privilege. “People can’t just say, ‘I want a lazy girl job,’” Dyba says. “There are marginalized communities to think about: People who aren’t university-educated who can’t necessarily just walk into a lazy girl job. They need to do what they can to make ends meet.”

Lazy girls’ have met their match

But this is one Gen Z work trend that may have a very short lifespan: Many of the jobs that are apt for lazy girls—ones that allow workers to coast and require little effort or creativity—can soon be automated with A.I. It already caused over 4,000 layoffs in May, and the number will likely rise as more industries and companies integrate the new technology. Both Welch and Tripp think LGJs won’t survive the coming cull, and Gen Zers will have to be more productive than A.I.—or provide unique services to avoid getting replaced.

“A.I. is going to introduce a new efficient employee, if you will, and all of a sudden, that other employee is going to be challenged, especially if they’re a lazy person on the job,” Tripp says, predicting that many of the jobs eliminated will be in corporate writing, data analysis, or assistant work like scheduling. 

It’s a “high-risk proposition” with another trade-off, Welch adds: true wealth, something she doesn’t believe young workers have given up their desire for despite wanting work-life boundaries. She says Gen Z could do fine with an LGJ paying $70,000, but they must also recognize it won’t get them vacations or homeownership. 

“If you want to remove work as an intellectual or emotional component of your life, and almost take a factory job mentality, that’s the anti-American dream,” she says. She thinks if you pushed lazy girl jobbers they’d agree to relinquish that desire for nice clothes, vacations in Bali, or a second car. “That’s the piece that seems to be left out.” 

Regardless of its ephemerality, the lazy girl trend still signifies an important manifestation of Gen Z’s anti-work mentality. It adds to an overarching pattern of the youngest generation wanting to exist as easily as possible within the parameters of capitalism, and not feeling obligated to traditional notions of productivity. The fact that a term as crass as LGJ has resonated so deeply “really makes it a battle cry from workers to companies,” says Dyba, the recruiter.

And, for all the term implies, it’s not just women; Judge estimates 30% of her community is men. “People ask, ‘can I get a lazy boy job?’” Judge laughs. “I’m like, ‘of course!’ It’s a new age of work boundaries.”

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