Still top: Clark an inspiration to women

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014

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They still want the quarter-acre dream, but Kiwi women no longer need the man to go with it.

Financial security is what women crave above all else, according to Westpac's Women of New Zealand survey released today to mark International Women's Day.

The statistics show that 43 per cent of women name financial independence as their top priority, followed by 14 per cent naming home ownership. By comparison, 12 per cent wanted children and just 3 per cent aimed for marriage.

But it's the findings relating to career aspirations that have urged former prime minister Helen Clark to challenge women to aim higher.

Miss Clark, who was named as the most influential living New Zealand woman in the survey, said she was disappointed to see just 12 per cent of women aspired to be a boss or chief executive.

However, she was encouraged to see that younger women were the most ambitious, with 27 per cent naming general manager or head of division as a career goal, and 27 per cent naming chief executive or boss.

"They do have a drive to achieve the top, now the question is can they keep that drive . . . ? We are limited only by our level of ambition and sense of what's possible," she said this week from New York, where she is head of the United Nations Development Programme.

She was more coy about her own aspirations, in light of speculation that she may be in line to replace secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon as head of the UN when his second term expires in 2016.

"I have got my hands full, but there will come a time when I think about the next move," she said, while not ruling out the possibility.

Miss Clark won 34 per cent of the vote in the survey, well ahead of Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams on 13 per cent and Dame Alison Holst on 6 per cent. Pop sensation Lorde was fourth on 5 per cent, and Dame Susan Devoy fifth on 4 per cent.

Women's Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew said the survey showed New Zealand still needed more women leaders.

"The potential is there, but more needs to be done to realise it. The New Zealand economy will benefit when all organisations achieve greater diversity in their leadership roles."

She heads to New York for the United Nations 58th Commission on the Status of Women today.

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- The Dominion Post

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