Girlguiding report: sexism blamed as three in four girls report low self-esteem

 

A growing number of girls and young women suffer from low self-esteem, with three-quarters of 11- 21-year-olds saying that sexism has an impact on most areas of their lives, according to a report by the charity Girlguiding.

The fifth Girls’ Attitudes Survey suggests that inequality is widespread and that large numbers of girls experience “shocking levels of everyday sexism and discrimination at school, on the street, and in their interactions online and with the media”.

At a time when fears about the early sexualisation and objectification of children are rife, the report found that 87 per cent of 11- 21-year-olds think that women are more judged for their looks than ability and that a third of 7- 21-year-olds are unhappy with the way they look.

Almost 1,300 girls between the ages of seven and 21, including those not involved in guiding, took part in the survey, with the majority of interviews conducted online under controlled conditions, as well as some face-to-face interviews. Additional interviews were carried out with young women who were not in education, employment or training, to ensure that this potentially marginalised group was fully represented.

Seven out of ten girls over the age of 13 reported experiences of sexual harassment at school or college, including sexual jokes or taunts (51 per cent) and touching (28 per cent), and more than half (54 per cent) of those aged 11 to 21 say they have had negative experiences online. For older girls, aged 16 to 21, this includes having had sexist comments (26 per cent) and threatening things (25 per cent) said about or to them.

More worryingly, the report found that young women are being left to navigate this terrifying maze with little support. Just over half (53 per cent) of all the girls questioned think that too much responsibility is placed on young women for their sexual safety and more than a third (38 per cent) of 16- 21-year-olds say that sex education is inadequate.

Although the majority (84 per cent) of all girls surveyed feel happy most of the time, this figure is lower than in previous years, particularly among the older age group. 13 per cent of girls class themselves as unhappy, up from just nine per cent in 2012.

While over three-quarters of those surveyed rated friends and family support as the most important factors required to do well in life, the respondents also indicated the negative influence of an increasingly body-obsessed media and a lack of good female role models. 63 per cent of 11- 21-years olds say that more female leaders would create a better environment for women.

Despite this over half (55 per cent) of girls aspire to be a leader in their chosen job and 70 per cent want to maintain their career after having children.

The 16-strong panel of Girlguiding “advocates” who helped devise the survey, carried out by the research group ChildWise, said that “barriers can be broken down by challenging stereotypes and questioning sexist practice” and that governments need to “champion equality for every individual”.

Outside responses to the report were mixed. Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, said: “This is an urgent wake-up call. The results closely reflect the huge numbers of entries to the Everyday Sexism Project from girls and young women experiencing sexism and harassment on a regular basis.

“That three quarters of girls feel sexism affects every area of their lives is a devastatingly sad reality in a modern world where we want our children to grow up believing they can be anything they want to be. Clearly, for girls, sexism is still a major hurdle to that sense of freedom.”

However, Maria Miller, minister for women and equalities, said: “These results are encouraging in that they show so many girls and young women in the UK are highly ambitious and want to get ahead in life; we need to help make sure that their aspirations become reality.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect