Women Speak Out May 2007

About This Report

The skinny: Women represent 52% of the adult population of the United States yet continue to be underrepresented in both government and boardrooms.

Key finding: Although education and economic status often determine which of life's many paths are available, a woman's worldview (motivation) has a great influence in determining which directions she will find most rewarding.

Bottom line: As increased numbers of women gain economic clout and political power (especially women age 50 and older), their potential to affect the marketplace will also increase significantly.

U.S. women, among the most liberated in the world, have yet to reach gender parity with their male counterparts in the workplace or in government. Although the Women's Rights Movement marked its 150th anniversary in 1998, the battle is far from over. The ongoing struggle toward equality has many contributing factors, including short-term economic realities of expanding child-friendly policies and programs for working mothers, slow-to-change opinions among male executives and legislators, and often women's own personal decisions that help maintain the status quo.

From a consumer perspective, women are critically important. Not only do women represent 52% of all U.S. adults, but many people estimate women to be key decision makers in some 80% of all consumer-goods purchases. Latest figures indicate that almost half (48.5%) of all adult women are on their own (never married, divorced, widowed, or legally separated). Women-headed households combined with the economic and political clout of women age 50 and older suggest that women will continue to evolve in importance to marketers.

Women Speak Out probes women's issues, formative experiences, and the meaning of success through interviews with a panel of women representative of each of the VALS™ consumer groups. Beginning with this report, you will find a list of related sources, including links to other VALS and SRIC-BI reports, women's and government Web sites, and books that we use as background research.

Our special thanks to the National Women's History Project.

Table of Contents

Context 1
An Innovator Woman Speaks Out 6
A Thinker Woman Speaks Out 10
A Believer Woman Speaks Out 13
An Achiever Woman Speaks Out 17
A Striver Woman Speaks Out 20
An Experiencer Woman Speaks Out 22
A Maker Woman Speaks Out 25
A Survivor Woman Speaks Out 28
Tables
Our Panel of Women 5
Representative VALS™ Women: Summary 31
Figure
VALS™ Framework 4
Appendix
Timelines A-1

Related Sources