Key Points:

Today's young women are "boarders, babes and bad-asses" - they're ambitious, educated and not afraid to swear or be competitive.

In her PHD study, Waikato University lecturer Dr Holly Thorpe has analysed female snowboarders to offer evidence of a new Kiwi woman.

Snowboarding - where women have challenged the bastion of male-dominated extreme sports - is a "good barometer" of the changes in youth and popular culture, she says.

"We are definitely seeing changes in how they approach the world in comparison to the way our mothers or grandmothers would have - they just didn't have these opportunities," said Dr Thorpe.

Her research, Boarders, Babes and Bad-asses: theories of a female physical youth culture, suggests the new Kiwi woman has a hybrid identity.

And while she is a feminist, her style of feminism would be rejected by those more traditionally minded.

Dr Thorpe said these were women who would hit the slopes wearing low-riding baggy pants, gangsta-style bandannas or pink punk studded belts.

They were also likely to swear or be competitive and aggressive.

But at the same time they were likely to be open to travel and business opportunities, be well educated - and unafraid to show off their sexuality.

"It's important to note it's not all women ... it's more particularly middle-class and privileged women who have the opportunity."

Dr Thorpe said former national ballroom dancing champion and snowboarder Hayley Holt was an "interesting example" of a young woman who embodied these seemingly contradictory identities.

"She's taking risks and is quite aggressive on her snowboard," Dr Thorpe said.

"And then on the dance floor she's really feminine and she combines these in a really interesting way which is capturing the public imagination.

"She's a great athlete, she speaks well, she's got gender capital and looks fabulous ... she's an interesting juxtaposition of these traditional feminine traits as well as these abilities to be outspoken and confident."