As a mother of a tween daughter and women's coach, its been disheartening and frustrating to see media portrayal of young women as obsessed with body image, lacking in self confidence, dumbing down to be more attractive to men and falling foul of that nasty glass ceiling. Just watch Miss Representation for an insight.
Thankfully, as part of an investigation into the current attitudes and beliefs of women under thirty, the skincare brand Nivea developed the #Bringiton study, questioning more than 2,700 girls across the UK on subjects as diverse as education, career, technology, social media, relationships, role models and fame.
And contrary to the common portrayal of young women as selfie taking celebrity obsessives, wrestling with self-confidence and body issues, the findings offer an alternative perspective on a generation of girls comfortable in their own skin, driven by opportunity and liberated by technology.
These 'Happenistas' are the young women that you know. The ones that make things happen, but with their own individual style, they: blog, perform, create, nor do they let obstacles get in their way; instead they say #BringItOn.
Here are some insights from the study:
Confidence on the Up
More than half (56%) of those questioned believe that 'women now are more confident than ever before' with 55% calling for girls to stop worrying about 'not being perfect'. 88% agree they have more opportunities that their mums' generation and 63% want to be their own boss. 46% claim being female makes no difference to their career prospects.
Education is no guarantee
Unlike previous generations, the value placed on qualifications is questioned by today's young women. 87% say 'education is no guarantee of success', with 69% agreeing you can 'learn more on the shop floor than in the classroom'. Almost a third (29%) think the traditional career ladder and 'working through the ranks' is out of date, while 63% believe professional success 'can come at any age'.
Technology is powering change
Not surprisingly technology is fuelling female ambition, with 87% using social media to 'get my ideas out there'. Three out of four (76%) believe technology can speed career success, while 85% agree the internet is creating a new generation of female digital role models. Even the ubiquitous selfie might be on the wane, with 76% declaring them 'over', preferring instead to point their camera outwards.
Technology is powering the 'career lift', rather than the rigid career ladder of the past. Beauty bloggers review make up ranges, and go on to design their own. This contraction of 'career time served' is of huge appeal to a generation brought up with the immediacy of a digital world, with bloggers and vloggers now just as likely to inspire young women as 'traditional' professionals.
So what are your thoughts? Have you noticed the trend. Tell me about the Happenistas that you know, maybe you are one!
Jenny Garrett is the Award Winning Coach and founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy. She's also the author of Rocking Your Role, a how-to guide to success for female breadwinners.