Two thirds of 18- to 34-year-old women say being successful in a high-paying career is "one of the most important things" or "very important" in their lives, according to a Pew Research Center report out Thursday. Women with that attitude surpass their male counterparts: 59% of young men have the same stance.

In 1997, when the question was last asked, the gender groups were more closely aligned; 56% of young women and 58% of young men expressed the same desire for a well-compensated profession.

Pew doesn't have survey data on why women have become more money-focused, but their increased education levels are probably a large factor, says Kim Parker, associate director of Pew's Social & Demographic Trends project.

"In the last few decades, women have made major gains in higher education," and in turn, they feel more confident, she says. "This younger generation of women are more highly skilled and educated, so they can compete in a different way."

The number of women in U.S. colleges has grown. Females are about 57% of undergraduate enrollment, according to the American Council on Education...

...But they're also experiencing the reality of the gender wage gap. U.S. women continue to make less than men, earning 81% of what their male counterparts earn, the latest available Labor Department data from 2010 show...

More young women want high-paying career, Pew finds

Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens