What’s it like to be a woman today?

ELLE and Edelman’s Womanhood 2014 survey

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BUY ELLE'S CONFIDENCE ISSUE FEATURING KIM KARDASHIAN

What does being a woman mean today? We decided to ask you. So what did we find? After conducting a survey of 3,503 women and 1,498 men with communications marketing firm Edelman, confidence - our lack of it, and our desire for more of it – is key to every aspect of our lives. This is the reason we decided produce a whole issue dedicated to confidence.

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Just 21% of women felt the word confident described their true self, yet 44% aspired to have more of this quality – and 69% of women said they admired their role models for their confidence.

Worryingly, this lack of confidence may account for the fact that only 8% of women would describe themselves as successful, despite the fact that 47% of women admire their role models for their success.

And that, for women, the word ‘ambition’ is toxic: only 9% of women say they are ambitious and only 10% wish to be more so, despite 26% admiring their role models for being ambitious. 

So what is holding us back? Despite greater career opportunities, women today still prioritise family, relationships and children above their careers. And, most revealingly, feel that this is what is expected of them from society. Modern men, on the other hand, put healthier emphasis on ‘me-time’ and their income, falling back into the ‘traditional’ stereotypes.

Unsurprisingly, given the many different directions women today are pulled in, our identities are increasingly fragmented. How we see and feel about ourselves is very different from what we aspire to be personally and professionally. Only 1 in 5 women feel in control of how to reach their goals.

But there are positives. 40% of women today describe themselves as happy and 30% as intelligent.

Now, it’s time to start empowering women to exceed their own expectations and turn our belief in our own intelligence and our happiness into, success, self-confidence and ambition.

For the definitive report on womanhood 2014, see the December issue of ELLE

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