The Future is FeMale

The Future is FeMale


In February 2017, we fielded a study to survey 12,169 men and women aged 18+ in 32 markets: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador,  France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Who Are Prosumers ?

Prosumers are today’s leading influencers and market drivers - they’ve been the focus of Havas Worldwide and BETC studies for more almost 15 years. Beyond their own economic impact, Prosumers are important because they influence the brand choices and consumption behaviors of others. What Prosumers are doing today, mainstream consumers will likely be doing 6 to 18 months from now.


There was a time when the word ‘feminism’ not only raised eyebrows but also apocalyptic scenarios. While we have undeniably made great progress we are still debating over gender issues and inequalities.

The remarkable find of our study? In year 2017, people are reluctant to state they are feminists. Why is that? Has feminism become irrelevant? The word ‘feminist’ belongs to the past and a political fight is a more relevant talking point today. However, at the same time, we do expect women to play a bigger role: 45% Prosumers and 30% Mainstream globally agree that in the future it will be women who will lead change in the world. A female future is indeed a better future: 46% of women and 34% of men agree that the world would be a better place if more women were in positions of power. If we expect women to lead change in the world, why don’t we call ourselves feminists? With all these conflicts in place no wonder why the gender discourse is so convoluted today.


Only 31% of women and 17% of men globally declare they are feminists. Our ‘aversion’ to the word feminism has many causes, the most prevalent being that the topic of feminism has become a political issue. It’s about progressive versus conservative views that shape the way we perceive the world around us. Looking for example at the United States, while a whooping 64% of Democrats declare they are feminists only 32% of Republicans do so. That said, both sexes (46% of women and 34% of men) were more likely to agree than disagree that the world would be a better place if more women were in positions of power.



Having rights does not necessarily mean power: 56% of women and 41% of men globally agree that women today have rights but no real power. We still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality and we recognize our shortcomings: 66% of Prosumers worldwide agree that there are not enough women in executive positions today. Indeed, as of 2016 there are only 4,2% of the top 500 US companies run by women. However, gender equality is a matter of cultural perception. Western countries are more likely to agree that we are still far from reaching gender equality, while there are those – mostly driven by Southeast Asia and Middle East – who are most likely to think there is less urgency to do more on the issue. So whose fault is it that gender inequality persists? For most, it’s society’s fault that deters women from reaching complete equality. However, for others like Russia, China, Cambodia and India gender inequality is more the fault of women who don’t really want full equality. Nonetheless, cultural distinctions seem to fade when pragmatism comes into play: 91% of women and 84% of men globally agree that women and men who do the same job should be paid the same.


45% of women and 42% of men globally agree that true gender equality will never exist because the genders are not equal. Is it that we are inherently unequal or is it the lack of representation in society that perpetuates inequalities? We gave our respondents a list of 25 important traits and attributes, and asked whether each one applies more to men, to women, or to the two sexes equally. Though there were some distinctions (our global total sample agreed that men are more mechanical and women are more nurturing and sensitive), for the most part we saw a real overlap between the genders.

For instance: 

69% of men and 71% of women believe the sexes are equally smart

64% of men and 68% of women believe the sexes are equally intellectual

63% of both men and women believe the sexes are equally trustworthy

61% believe the sexes are equally hardworking

Despite these fading distinctions, interestingly, men view themselves as better bosses/leaders than women (while embracing more traditional feminine qualities) while women still distinguish themselves on an emotional level. What does this mean for the future of leadership? Will it be women who will lead change in the world after all or men who embrace ‘feminine’ traits?



Traditional ideas and images of femininity are challenged. A woman has a variety of ways to express her femininity that do not necessarily entail wearing make up, dresses and heels. In fact, only 12% of women and 17% of men globally agree that a woman who does not wear make up is not feminine enough. In addition, only 8% of women and 12% of men globally agree that a woman who does not wear high heels is not feminine enough. But while women are increasingly more liberated from feminine stereotypes, men are still stuck in rigid masculine imagery: 67% of Prosumers globally agree that a man should be masculine and 46% agree that a man who wears make up is not masculine enough. A woman showing up in a suit at work is no big deal but all eyes turn toward the man who steps out in a skirt (unless he is Jaden Smith or lives in Scotland and is on his way to a traditional kilt ball).



For everyone – men and women – family comes first: 73% of men and 72% of women globally agree that being a successful parent is more important than having a successful career. Family is a crucial part of the human experience but what happens when we try to combine family and career? In most cases and particularly in less organized states that lack provisions to help working parents, women will usually take on the onus of childcare: only 13% of women globally state they leave most of the childcare to their spouse/partner as opposed to 35% of men. And while men agree that being a parent is more important than a career, 23% of them admit that they sometimes use work as an excuse to not spend time with their child(ren). However, Millennials who are looking for more meaningful careers while being dedicated parents, are particularly conflicted: while only 29% of Millennials feel guilty to leave their child(ren) to go to work, 46% feel guilty not to have enough time to play with their kids.



See also