In celebration of International Women’s Day (8 March), we decided to look at the bigger picture: what women want out of life.
It’s a tricky question, with no single correct answer.
Of course, with the kind of data we collect at Roy Morgan Research, we could answer the question in a myriad of ways: identifying exactly what women in Australia and New Zealand want when it comes to chocolate or cosmetics, cars or kitchen appliances, holidays, health or banking.
Instead, in celebration of International Women’s Day (8 March), we decided to look at the bigger picture: what these women want out of life.
When asked whether their main goal in life was security, excitement, family, prosperity or importance, 41.9% of Australian women aged 14+ chose family. Second most popular choice was security (28.7%), followed by prosperity (11.4%).
In New Zealand, on the other hand, more women opted for security (35.0%) than family (30.8%), with prosperity (16.9%) in third place.
Family ties in Australia
The fact that so many Australian women consider a family life their most important goal is not so surprising — we live in a family-oriented society, after all. What’s most striking about this result is the relative consistency between women of different generations.
Generation Y is the most family-oriented generation, with 45.2% naming family as their most important life goal. Generation X women (44.9%), Pre-Boomers (41.5%) and Baby Boomers (40.3%) aren’t far behind.
While Generation Z women and girls place a slightly lower emphasis on family life (32.2%), it’s still their most popular goal by a long shot. However, they also yearn for adventure, with 20.1% naming an exciting life as their top goal — more than double the proportion of any other generation.
Playing it safe in New Zealand
Across the Tasman, family life is the top goal among Generations Y (36.3%) and Z (24.6%), but is far less of a priority for the older age groups. Indeed, the Boomer generations’ desire for a secure life above a family life is so strong it skews the national average. A resounding 51.8% of Pre-Boomers and 42.7% of Baby Boomers say security is their priority.
Like their Aussie counterparts, however, more Gen Z women and girls (22.4%) would prefer an exciting life to a secure one (17.5%). Which raises the inevitable — and depressing — question: does the desire for excitement wither with age?
The importance of being important
And an important life? Not so important in the great scheme of things, it seems. A relatively modest 6.6% of Australian women and just 4.0% of Kiwi women name this as their main goal.
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“International Women’s Day is an opportune time to reflect on the status of women around the world, and how far we’ve come towards achieving gender equality.
“In Australia and New Zealand, the days of women being ineligible to vote or stand for Parliament are long gone, but even now, we still trail men when it comes to average salary.
“It’s interesting to note that an important life is the least popular goal among women in both countries, and one must wonder whether this is a consequence of nature or nurture. Still, it doesn’t mean we won’t see a few future Prime Ministers, Nobel Prize-winners and world-changing activists among this minority.”
Source, Australia : Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), 12 months to December 2012 (n = 26,428).
Source, New Zealand: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), 12 months to December 2012 (n = 7,279).