GENDER STEREOTYPES IMPACTING BEHAVIOUR OF GIRLS AS YOUNG AS SEVEN

Research released today by Girlguiding reveals girls and young women are encountering gender stereotypes in all areas of their lives – online, on TV, in films, newspapers, from their peers, parents and teachers – causing them to change their behaviour because of the pressure they feel to be or act a certain way.

The shocking findings from Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey highlights how girls and young women face relentless pressure from seeing and hearing gender stereotypes on a daily basis, with girls as young as seven saying these stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think.

  • 55% of girls and young women aged 7-21 say the pressures of gender stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think
  • 57% of 7-21-year-old girls and young women say the pressures of gender stereotypes affect what they wear
  • Half of girls and young

MPACTING BEHAVIOUR OF GIRLS AS YOUNG AS SEVEN women (51%) aged 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect how they behave with their peers

  • 51% of 7-21-year-old girls and young women say gender stereotypes affect what sport and exercise they do
  • Nearly one in two (47%) girls and young women aged 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect how much they participate in class

The most common place young women see gender stereotypes perpetuated is on social media, with two thirds (65%) aged 11-21 saying they are often confronted with them, while 64% say they often see or hear them on TV, in films, magazines and newspapers. The same age group also says they often see or hear gender stereotypes from boys (58%), girls (44%), teachers (33%), parents (32%) and on YouTube (24%).

Being exposed to these gender stereotypes is not only causing girls to change how they behave but also impacting significantly on how they feel. A quarter (23%) of girls and young women aged 11-21 say they feel less confident as a result of gender stereotypes while one in five (19%) say they feel anxious about their future and 27% say they feel angry. A considerable number feel driven to achieve despite these gender stereotypes, with one in three (36%) saying they are more determined to succeed.

Catherine, 16, a Girlguiding Scotland spokesperson, said:

“We’re so used to seeing gender stereotypes in our everyday lives that we’re at risk becoming blind to the harm they cause but these figures should be a wake-up call to everyone.

“When more than half of girls age 7 to 21 say they feel like they can’t say what they think, wear what they want or behave in a way that’s true to themselves because of the pressure to conform to gender stereotypes – it’s clear there’s still a long way to go to ensuring all girls feel free to make their voices heard and achieve their full potential.”

Katie, 19, a Girlguiding Scotland spokesperson, added:

“It’s disheartening to see that despite the progress we’ve made in so many areas, girls and young women still feel the pressure of gender stereotypes in their everyday lives.

“From my own experience as a girl pursuing a career in STEM, I know how outdated ideas of what girls should and shouldn’t do – combined with a lack of female role models in STEM fields – can make girls question themselves.

“We’re constantly exposed to the idea that girls ‘cannot’ succeed in STEM fields, and this has an effect on girls’ confidence – as well as the support and encouragement they receive to do so. Despite this, it’s encouraging to see that around one in three girls feel more driven to succeed despite the stereotypes they face.

“As a Girlguiding Scotland member I’m really proud to be part of an organisation committed to creating future where no girl feels held back in life by gender stereotypes.”

As the leading charities for girls and young women in Scotland and the UK, Girlguiding Scotland and Girlguiding are working to ensure every girl feels empowered achieve her potential. From experiences and skills gained throughout Girlguiding, in Rainbows (5-7), Brownies (7-10), Guides (10-14) and The Senior Section (14-25), girls are standing up to gender stereotypes, whether they’re taking part in activities such as survival skills, sport or science experiments, involved in peer education sessions or speaking out on the issues which are important to them.

Earlier this year girls had their say when asked what badges they would like to see included as part of the revamp of Girlguiding’s programme of activities, which will be launched in 2018. Suggestions included stereotype busting ideas such as coding and app design.

The results of this survey and the issues raised will be used to inform and develop a new resource for Girlguiding’s Peer Education Programme. In the past, the survey provided information used to develop Think Resilient which helps girls find positive ways of dealing with pressures and challenges in their lives.

Young members of Girlguiding Scotland – together with Girlguiding members in England and Wales – have been campaigning to ensure sexism and gender stereotypes are tackled from an early age. Over the last year the charity has been calling for a zero tolerance to gender-based bullying and sexual harassment in schools and calling for updated personal and social education in all Scottish schools covering topics including gender equality, healthy relationships, consent, and online safety.

Girlguiding is calling on the public to get involved by sharing how they, or the girls and young women in their lives, are standing up to gender stereotypes by joining an online campaign to show girls can do anything. Join in on social media #GirlsAttitudes

The Girls’ Attitudes Survey, the largest piece of research of girls and young women in the UK, is conducted annually to highlight the many pressures impacting on girls’ lives, from feeling as though they have to live the perfect life online to their experiences of sexist online abuse.

A total of 1,906 girls and young women aged between 7 and 21 took part in the 2017 survey from the across the UK, from both inside and outside of guiding.

To download the full Girls’ Attitudes Survey visit girlguiding.org.uk/social-action-advocacy-and-campaigns/research/girls-attitudes-survey/

To find out more about joining in the fun and adventure of Girlguiding Scotland – on behalf of a girl or as an adult volunteer visit girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved/

 

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Notes to editors:

  • To arrange interviews with Girlguiding Scotland’s young members or volunteers, please contact the Girlguiding Scotland Press Office on 0131 226 4511 or 07852 554 779 (out of hours).
  • Please note we do not have regional breakdown for the findings.
  • Girls’ Attitudes 2017 is a survey of 1,906 girls and young women aged between 7 and 21 who were asked about their attitudes on a range of issues from health and wellbeing to education and digital technology.
  • A panel of young women from within Girlguiding works with the project team to develop the survey and to comment on its findings. Those surveyed form a representative sample across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and are not restricted to those involved in guiding.
  • Research was conducted by leading research specialists on children and young people Childwise and fieldwork took place during March to May 2017
  • The questionnaire was adapted to be suitable for different age groups (7-11, 11-16, 16-21), with some core questions asked of all groups.
  • For more information about the Girls’ Attitudes Survey visit: girlguiding.org.uk/social-action-advocacy-and-campaigns/research/girls-attitudes-survey/

About Girlguiding Scotland:

Girlguiding Scotland is the leading charity for girls and young women in Scotland, with 50,000 young members. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. We give them the chance to discover their full potential and encourage them to be a powerful force for good. We give them a space to have fun. Find out more at girlguidingscotland.org.uk