November 07, 2011

Doing it all...and in high heels at that!

ASIAN women are doing it all.

That’s the conclusion arrived at in a new study by media company Universal Networks International and research partner Synovate.

Dubbed “High Heeled Warriors,” the study shows that women in Asia are approaching expectations and duties with increasing power, intelligence and capability. They fulfill traditional roles as daughter, wife and mother, and yet all these don’t hinder the urban Asian women’s personal ambitions.

The study also reveals that more Asian women are gaining financial freedom as they attain more success in terms of education, and in their careers.

I guess that doesn’t sound so surprising for most of us Filipino women because in Asia, we happen to be one of the more advanced countries in terms of women working outside the home since the post-World War II. (I should say, not only are more Filipino women working outside the home, but outside the country, as well.)

Whether you’re a domestic helper, sales clerk at the mall, bank teller, a nurse, doctor, lawyer, or even a company president—Filipino women are all over the workplace. And, yes, they manage to take care of their children and run their households, too. More and more women I’ve spoken with enjoy their financial freedom—that of being able to earn their own money to help defray family expenses, as well as pay for their own personal pleasures. They now make it a point to set aside their own funds in a bank account, separate from the family joint account, using the funds therein to pay anything from the new high heels they’ve been craving for (and the occasional shopping spree with girls), vacations, gifts for family and friends, and their regular personal expenses such as cell-phone subscription plans, spa massages, and the like.

The study was commissioned by Universal Networks to understand the motivations and decision-making processes of contemporary Asian women. Female television audiences from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta were surveyed to uncover their lifestyle habits, psychological motivations and self-identity.

Christine Fellowes, managing director for Asia Pacific of Universal Network International, said: “Just as Asia’s audiences recognize Universal Networks’ channel brands for their great entertainment value, we are committed to knowing our audiences better in order to meet their ever-changing needs.”

She explained that the study delved into aspects such as education, finance, travel, technology, health, fitness, fashion and beauty, to explore how the women in each country express themselves differently. The findings further support existing statistics on female consumer habits.

The research was conducted via extended focus groups and home visits. “We supplemented the primary research with leading third-party findings about women,” Fellowes said, such as Synovate’s regional PAX survey.

The research was conducted among women aged 22 to 44, she said. All were university or college graduates from affluent homes, and working in various fields in a number of companies or have their own businesses (i.e., own a chain of laundry shops, have own retail business, etc.). There was a mix of single and married women among the respondents.

She said the study shows how women still value their roles as nurturers and caregivers in their family, while becoming outspoken and assertive in the decision-making process, a role traditionally taken on by husbands/fathers. (Of course, here in the Philippines, we all know that the real power in the family does lie with the women...we just let the men think they’re the boss. Hehehe.)

Asian women are now better educated, Fellowes added, self-assured “and seek more freedom and opportunities to grow. They want to make their own decisions and determine their own future. They also seek independence, especially financial independence.”

Asian women are success-oriented and have high expectations in terms of their career development. They are proud to be modern working women (or modern working mothers for those with children)—they do these both for self-development and for their family.

“They want to portray themselves as confident, sophisticated and smart women with style,” Fellowes stressed, adding that Asian women also want to “express their individuality and are triggered by psychological motivations, which vary by country.”

The study outlines the 10 traits of the Filipino Woman High-Heeled Warrior:

• She is educated. She wants to express her individuality by educating herself and polishing her skills or expertise in a certain field. She is proud of her special abilities and competence.

• She is a go-getter. She is not afraid to do what needs to get done in order to achieve her dreams. She is invested in her future and willing to work hard to bring her goals to fruition.

• She is optimistic. She looks forward to a better life and a brighter future. She works hard to be financially independent and plans ahead in anticipation of future needs.

• She is strong-willed. She feels empowered to be her own woman and makes life choices on her own.

• She has big dreams. She takes chances and immerses herself in new experiences and environments, letting go of her inhibitions to make her dreams come true.

• She is entrepreneurial. She wants to challenge herself. She wants to maximize and use her skills and capabilities to do the things that she enjoys. She also wants to be in full control and have the freedom to decide what she wants to do.

• She is bursting with individualism. She draws strength from freedom, adventure and energy. She is adventurous, passionate, energetic and wants to express her individuality by testing her boundaries.

• She is creative and innovative. She is talented and thrives on being innovative. She wants recognition for her creative abilities, which may include crafts, music and design.

• She is expressive. She is creative and tries be fashionable in terms of clothes and accessories, to reflect her individuality. And last,

• She sees marriage as a new step forward. She wants to maximize her potential and express her self-identity through her marriage, her creativity and her social circle. She is able to express herself the way she wants to—as a person, wife and mother. In a sense, marriage empowers her for greater self-expression.

The research, based on Synovate’s research framework, Censydiam, encompasses eight key human motivations influencing women’s decisions—conviviality, belonging, security, control, recognition, power, vitality and enjoyment.

Universal Networks International is the global channels division of NBCUniversal. It is one of the world’s premier entertainment networks, delivering quality content and compelling brands to 150 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the Philippines its TV channels include DIVA Universal, Universal Channel, E! Entertainment and Style.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section in the BusinessMirror. This piece was originally published on Nov. 4, 2011. Photo and illustration from the web.)

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