8 March 2014

Westpac Women of NZ Survey:

New Zealand women aspire to financial independence over children and marriage

New Zealand women are showing a strong individual streak saying financial independence and owning their own home is more important to them than having children or getting married, according to the Westpac Women of New Zealand survey marking International Women’s Day.

The online survey of 1100 women canvassed their views on personal issues, career aspirations and our society.

Asked what is the one thing they most aspired to 43% said financial independence. That was three times more than the next highest preference of owning their own home (14%) followed by having children (12%). Only 3% rated getting married as the one thing they most aspired to.

Westpac Direct of Corporate Affairs, Sue Foley, said the bank has first hand experience of women seeking financial independence with nearly 52% of its customer’s being female.

“The results show women feel confident in dealing with their finances and aspire to financial independence more than anything else. The findings also underline recent research that shows women are more able, and more likely, to be economically independent today than at any time over the last 30 years.”

This was highlighted in a 2013 report to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs that found the trend toward women seeking financial independence was based on rapid and large shifts in the nature of work available, more women gaining qualifications and higher expectations of their earning capability.

Leading anthropologist Michael Henderson says the findings are in line with the trends he has seen emerging in recent years.

“My research into human values in New Zealand shows that financial security and financial success increasingly appear amongst women's top five personal values,” he said. “Women are appearing across many industries as very astute and savvy business leaders.”

The Westpac Women of NZ survey found that more than 90% aspire to a career compared to only 8% who want to be a fulltime parent. Healthcare, Education and Business are the most favoured vocations with only 1% wanting to be in politics, agriculture, sport or engineering.

But while they are career focussed, 75% view work as a financial necessity or to provide balance in their life. This influences the level they want to reach in their career with most (23%) wanting to be self employed or if working for someone else, wanting to be no higher than a mid level manager or team member. Only 12% want to be a CEO or lead a company.

Not surprisingly given those findings, 88% believe they can achieve their career goals in New Zealand.

The drive to reach the top was strongest among 19-29 year olds but fell away quickly after that. There was a strong comfort level across all ages for going no higher than a mid level manager or team member. The desire to be self employed emerged after the age of 30 and remained consistently strong right through to those in their early 70s.

When asked about issues facing New Zealand, 28% thought that improvement was needed in affordable housing and 25% thought more could be done around social equality and equal opportunity.

Fact Box
The one thing most aspired to:
• 43% financial independence
• 14% own their own home
• 12% have children
• 3% get married
• 75% believe they are in a better socio-economic position than their mother at the same age

Career aspirations
• 92% aspire to a career with Healthcare, Education, Business most popular areas
• 8% aspire to be a fulltime parent
• 23% want self employment
• 40% aspire to be mid level manager or team member
• 12% aspire to being the CEO/Boss
• 38% view a career as a financial necessity
• 37% view a career as providing life balance
• 33% view it as a way to test themselves
• 88% believe they can achieve their career goals in NZ

Qualities most admired in women leaders
• 30% courage
• 24% strength
• 17% Fairness

What aspect of New Zealand are you most proud
• 37% great place to raise kids
• 23% clean green environment
• 13% equal opportunity
• 7% social equality

What aspect of New Zealand needs most improvement
• 28% affordable housing
• 22% creating a sustainable and wealthy economy
• 25% more social equality and equal opportunity

The most inspirational living New Zealand women
• 34% Helen Clark
• 13% Valerie Adams
• 6% Dame Alison Holst
• 5% Lorde
• 4% Dame Susan Devoy


Full version of Westpac Women of NZ Survey