Women’s main concern: the future of their children

Women are most concerned about the future of their children, but express dissatisfaction about their work life balance, according to a study of women’s lives, lifestyles and marketplace impact led by communications firm FleishmanHillard and Hearst Magazines.

In the five countries studied, women are shown to be focused on the future, with their main concerns being the future of their children, closely followed by some clear indicators of economic angst, household budget and keeping their jobs. Some 65% of the over 750 women interviewed in the UK said they were financially worse off than when the recession started.

In comparison to other countries, including France, China and the US, women in the UK were particularly satisfied with their friendships; but less so in areas such as mental/physical health and work-life balance.

The study shows women under 35 perceive greater gender equality in skills, opportunities and accomplishments , shaped by being raised with a ‘girls can do anything boys can do’ attitude. However, equality of aspiration does not mean equality of results.

In each of the five countries surveyed, more than 80% of women agree ‘men are often paid more than women, even for doing the same work’ (84% stated this in the UK) and about half agree that many men resent the advancements women have made in recent years (45% in the UK).

Overall, women see themselves as stronger than men in areas of ‘emotional strength’, such as having difficult conversations or rebounding from setbacks, and acknowledge that men often have more success in negotiating and proactively asking for salary increases. Some 59% of women believe men are better at proactively asking for salary increases and 63% assert that men are more successful in business generally.

However, women under 35 [Generation Y] tend to see more gender equality across all of these areas.

“The influence of women on just about every aspect of home, workplace and marketplace continues to evolve and grow, with most generally satisfied with their lives. Though more educated but less well-paid than their spouses, there are signs that a new global generation of women is working hard to rectify that inequity,” said Holly Ward, Director and Partner, FleishmanHillard UK. “For Generation Y there is a simple, unspoken assumption that women can do anything men can do. The secret for brands is developing a greater empathy and understanding of women as individuals, not stereotypes.”

The Women, Power & Money survey also shows differences in shopping habits, for instance:

– In Germany, where smart shopping is a way of life, women are highly satisfied as consumers and are feeling relative economic strength. Counterparts in the UK and France are still feeling the economic pinch, while American women’s economic concerns are prevalent but easing, says the report.

– Women in the UK are most open to trying new brands and also have a strong desire to help others make smart purchasing decisions.

– French women have the strongest perceptions of gender equality in society and their households. German women note more gender specialisation in the home, but relatively equal opportunity in politics.

– American women prefer spending on ‘experiences’ whereas French women prefer ’things’ and women in China and Germany expressed the strongest interest in luxury across a variety of categories.

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