Friday, March 8th, 2013
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.

Life goals

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 generations1.

Most important life goals for Aussie women by generation

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), 12 months to December 2012 (n = 26,428).

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.

Most important life goals for Kiwi women by generation

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), 12 months to December 2012 (n = 7,279).

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.”

1Roy Morgan ‘Generations’ definitions:
Pre-Boomers — Pre 1946; Baby Boomers — 1946-1960; Generation X — 1961-1975; Generation Y — 1976-1990; Generation Z — 1991-2005.

Contact Profile

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Alex Dalidakis
P: +61 3 9224 5209
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