Elevated view of a group of smiling multiethnic businesswomen

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NEW YORK — Historically, women have been trailblazing through prejudice and inequality for centuries. Despite how far they’ve come, nearly half of women think they have more social barriers to overcome than previous generations (44%), according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 women 25-40 and 55-80 looked at how women view themselves in society and found that four in five agree that society puts a lot of pressure on women to look or act a certain way.

Modern barriers for women

The top barriers women find themselves faced with are feeling like they need to “cover up” or hide parts of their body (23%) and dealing with the fear of aging (20%). Nearly a fifth also struggle with trying to be all things to all people (19%) and balancing their work and family lives (18%).

Seven in 10 women admitted that they care what others think or say about them (71%), feeling more judged than empowered about their body shape/size (38%), appearance (35%) and physical health (31%).

How to feel more confident

However, the survey, conducted by OnePoll for FitRight Fresh Start, found that despite all of the challenges they face, 93 percent of women surveyed are proud of their gender. In fact, a majority of women are feeling more confident today than they did 10 years ago (77%), and 63 percent feel more empowered today than prior to the pandemic.

To help themselves feel more empowered, women are overcoming the need to be perfect in everything they do (32%) and are being patient with themselves and everyone else (31%).

Happy woman drinking coffee at work desk, looking out office window smiling
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According to respondents, the top traits for feeling empowered are confidence (19%) and honesty (17%), finding inspiration in notable famous women such as Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana and Taylor Swift — or in their own lives, through their mother, grandmother or even an old boss.

Knowledge is also a powerful tool, according to one in six women who said that being well-informed also helps them feel empowered. Twenty-nine percent shared that making informed decisions allows them to feel more confident, and 27 percent said educating themselves about world issues helps, too.

Some advice they’d give other women to help them feel empowered is to be comfortable in their own skin (16%), trust their instincts (15%) and knowledge is power (13%). Those surveyed also said it’s important for successful women to stay positive (30%) and surround themselves with positive people (29%).

“One of the best ways to manage your physical health is to maintain a positive emotional outlook, including surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family,” says Doula Laura Gimbert, in a statement. “Join friends for a walk, try that trendy new restaurant or take a salsa dancing class. Like physical exercise, staying emotionally connected with the people and experiences you enjoy can be therapeutic.”

Aging and its role in insecurity

However, respondents acknowledge that there will always be moments of doubt. The average woman still finds themselves feeling self-conscious about their body four days a week.

When asked what they feel self-conscious about, the top concern was increased physical challenges as they age like aching body parts or incontinence (44%). More than a third of women surveyed have experienced incontinence (34%), averaging three times a week, worrying about drinking too many liquids (14%) or lifting weights (14%).

“It may come as a surprise that two out of every three U.S. women will experience urinary incontinence at some point in their life, but the subject has always been taboo,” says vice president of marketing for FitRight Fresh Start, Tambra Martin. “We think it’s time to talk about it, take control and shatter those stereotypes once and for all and give women what they have been asking for.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 women 25-40 and 55-80 was commissioned by FitRight Fresh Start between March 28 and April 1, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds' Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor


  1. Bonus says:

    Of course—- women are praised ad nauseam.

    They’re told they’re beautiful no matter what the look like. They’re told they are smart and wonderful every day of their lives.

    Men have to work at and earn their accolades all the while being put down and insulted every step along the way.

    1. PJ London says:

      Amen Brother.