SCMP, January 23, 2003 By Niki Law The modern Hong Kong woman is vain, environmentally aware and politically astute - but maintains traditional family values, a Chinese University study has found. Fifty-six per cent of those interviewed said 'breeding children to carry on the husband's family bloodline' was necessary, while about 58 per cent said they regarded having children as a woman's greatest life accomplishment. Leo Sin Yat-ming, of the university's marketing department, said 95 per cent of the 405 women interviewed said they were concerned about their appearance. But the interviewees were not merely self-absorbed. Ninety-two per cent of the women said they wanted to keep informed about saving the environment, while 77 per cent said society should encourage women to participate in politics. 'We found that Hong Kong women are willing to participate in many activities in society including environmental protection,' Professor Sin said. He added the government should take advantage of the statistic as it tried to promote environmental reforms and awareness. Almost 68 per cent said they were willing to pay a higher price for environmentally friendly products, while 75 per cent said they considered a product's environmental impact when shopping. Individual appearance remains a high priority, however. Survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 30 said they spent almost 30 per cent of their income on make-up, slimming products and clothes. 'Women are constantly trying to look better than their colleagues and friends. Hong Kong is a society of image and spending,' Professor Sin said. 'Being beautiful gives women a competitive edge ? but I think that the sense of competing against your fellow woman is the driving force behind this phenomenon.' Stella So Lai-man, associate professor of the university's marketing department, claimed that Hong Kong women tended to invest in brand-name items that could be put on public display. 'Handbags, mobile phones and shoes have labels on the outside. So women opt for name brands when purchasing these items,' she said. 'Clothes, on the other hand, have their labels on the inside so women are not so concerned about them. They only care about the clothes looking presentable.' When asked to name brands, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel - recognised for their handbags and shoes - were the most recalled fashion labels, mentioned by a total of 38 per cent of the women. Yet when specifically asked to name clothing brands, the women's top choices were Nike, Bossini and Giordano. Professor Sin said he was surprised that, despite their social awareness, the interviewees displayed more traditional values at home. 'Even though Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan society, more than 50 per cent of local women hold traditional values and beliefs,' he said. According to the study, 55 per cent of women still regard their husband as the head of the family, while 66 per cent said taking care of the family was a woman's primary task. The study was conducted last month on women between the ages of 18 and 65. Glossary vain (adj) excessively proud of one's own beauty, intelligence, or other qualities astute (adj) showing an understanding of a situation and being skilful in using one's knowledge to advantage Example: 'Jermaine Jenas is a tactically astute player who is learning when to sit back and when to burst forward,' Newcastle's midfielder Kieron Dyer praised his teammate after the 2-0 home win over Kevin Keegan's team at the weekend. (SCMP, January 22, 2003) self-absorbed (adj) over-involved in one's own interests or thoughts driving force (n) an event or a force to propel something primary (adj) chief, most important Primary also means elementary as in primary education. In English, many words have multiple meanings. Look words up in the dictionary, then decide on which meaning is correct. Example: 'Our primary task is to teach our children fundamental respect for other people. It is not possible to be involved in a hate crime if one genuinely respects people,' said Ruth Simmons, the first African-American to lead an Ivy League school. (SCMP, January 21, 2003) Discussion points ? For you, what is life's greatest accomplishment? ? What do you think are the three most important qualities in a person? Would the answer be different for the opposite sex? If yes, how? ? Do you think the general perception of gender is biased? Or is it a reflection of reality? Give your reasons.