News & Views

Research / Female Tribes

by Contagious Contributor
Lucy Moody, planner at JWT, London, shares insights from JWT's Women's Index research and Female Tribes initiative

From Malala going back to Pankhurst and beyond, some of the most vociferous and dedicated agents for change have been young women, despite often having the hardest obstacles to overcome.

As part of JWTs Female Tribes initiative, our global repository of proprietary female insight, we have created 20 actual tribes, characterising female capital from across the globe and allowing us to better understand, engage and speak to women. We found that today’s young women are more likely to champion and rally behind causes they believe in, in order to bring about societal change in a group we call Teen Activists.

These young inspirational women are social activists, campaigners and lobbyists and they are not afraid of ruffling a few feathers for causes they believe in.

Yet digging a little deeper and we see that this Tribe is actually much more complicated than that, they are actually level headed and mature and more likely to conform than previous generations before them.

Professor Measham, Professor of Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences from Durham University, speaking in our Generation Z report (released last year) said that this generation believes ‘we have to stay sober to sort out the mess your generation have made of things’.

And our brand new Women’s Index report, a quantative study of 4,300 women in nine countries, backed this up with 68% of UK millennials believing that it’s important to try and improve the community/world around them. 

But of course they do, I’m not telling you anything new here, teenagers have arguably been trying to ‘change-the-world’ since the 50’s. What makes this generation different from the rest is their unique relationship with technology.

Only now are we beginning to see how this Tribe is harnessing the power of social media and constant connectivity in order to bring about positive change in the environments in which they live.

And with 85% of them believing that technology had given them a voice, these digital natives are making themselves heard in a powerful and meaningful way – such as the recent galvanisation behind the #heforshe campaign, fronted by Emma Watson.

But what’s perhaps most surprising is that our Teen Activists in China and India are leading the charge; they are much more likely to agree with statements such as ‘Technology has empowered me’ or ‘I feel more aware as a global citizen thanks to technology’ than other female millennials in the rest of the world.

This generation have seen first-hand the positive change that technology can bring to their local communities and continue to use it in meaningful ways. Take Chhavi Rajawat, the first female head of her village council in Rajahstan and star of our Her Story documentary (above), who uses technology to give young girls invaluable access to education, changing their perception of themselves and therefore their lives forever.

This is a powerful and articulate audience who are using technology in new and influential ways. In a world where ‘purpose’ is becoming the industry buzzword, brands should take this opportunity to behave like activists and tap into the Teen Activists desire for change. Potentially brands could help them make that change, or at least prove that they are willing to change themselves.

Take Clean and Clear’s use of teen transgender activist Jazz Jennings in its most recent communication as an example of a brand harnessing teen activism rather than running scared from it.

But brands must tread with caution, this increasingly connected generation demands transparency and authenticity, so underestimate them at your peril.