Lifetime: 'Modern’ Means Complex

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For any naïve enough to believe in the myth of the “typical modern woman” to begin with, a recent study should dispel any such notions about singularly defining what 21st century women are all about.

Conducted by New York-based Insight Research on behalf of Lifetime Television, Women and the Challenge of Choice 2005 finds that women hold many, eclectic interests and points of view, before breaking them down into five groups: “independents,” “neo-traditionalists,” “spectators,” “survivors” and “strivers.”


The survey found most proactive women can be further divided into two groups: the independents, who are self-assured and interested in creating equal partnership roles with men while determined to have “me time;” and neo-traditionalists, who want and embrace traditional gender roles and are focused on the home. This group is more interested in “we time,” according to the study.

The study also revealed that today’s women don’t follow expected demographic patterns. Traditionally minded women are not concentrated in the “heartland.” Rather, they’re equally distributed throughout all parts of the country.

Independent-minded women are not typically single: In fact, they are the most likely group to be married. Moreover, women’s attitudes do not divide along age lines, as independent and traditionally-minded women have almost identical age profiles.

Among highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Careers: 73% of respondents feel that they have the freedom to choose who and what they want to be, but 68% believe they have it harder than men because they have outside jobs, along with more responsibilities at home. In the workplace, 55% still feel they aren’t given the recognition they deserve.
  • Relationships: 78% said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 made them re-examine their lives and focus more on family and loved ones. Here, 81% said they always put others’ needs before their own, while 36% said they put their pets’ needs before their own.
  • Mothering: Almost 75% of respondents felt that they’re more focused on their children than their own parents had been.
  • Appearance: 63% agreed that it is hard to live up to society’s expectations about what a woman is “supposed” to look like. Just under half, 44%, indicated that they would like an extreme makeover. Still, 60% agreed with the statement: “If I bought an exercise machine, I would probably end up using it as a clothes hanger.”
  • Technology: Around one-third of respondents said they can’t go one day without using a cellular phone, the Internet or e-mail. Yet, nearly 60% feel overwhelmed by all there is to know.
  • Politics: 57% agreed with the statement, “If this country was run by women, it would be in much better shape,” while 80% said some of their best friends have very different political views than they do.


“Lifetime is committed to understanding the joys, fears, needs and interests of women on a continuing basis,” executive vice president of research at Lifetime Entertainment Services Tim Brooks said in a statement. “With our partner Insight Research Group, we have completed this extensive study about what women are thinking about in the post-9/11 period, and we plan to follow it up with an ongoing program of studies on specific areas of interest.”

Insight Research data, gained from last August through this past January, encompassed information from 17 different ethnographic women’s groups from ages 20 to 59 in five cities, a nationwide phone survey of 1,000 women 18+, and 10 focus groups of women aged 18 to 65.