Sexism Affects ‘Most Aspects’ Of Life For Girls and Young Women: According to a report released by Girlguiding UK, sexism is so ingrained within British society that it affects ‘most aspects’ of the lives of girls and young women – three quarters of respondents said this was the case. The results come following a survey of 1,200 females aged between seven and 21. The report claims that ‘sexual harassment is commonplace’ and that the way girls look is ‘scrutinised’ whilst their ‘abilities are undermined’.
Among 11-21 year olds, almost nine in ten (87%) stated that they felt women were judged more on their appearance than their skills or aptitude, and more than a third (36%) of respondents had been ‘patronised or made to feel stupid’ due to their gender; this figure rose to three in five (60%) among 16-21 year old women.
The survey also suggested that most 13 year olds who responded had experienced some form of sexual harassment, with the figure rising to 80% among 19-21 year old women. Sexual harassment included sexual graffiti and pornography, sexual jokes, sexual taunts and unwanted sexual attention such as being whistled at, shouted at, touched or stalked. Four in five (78%) stated that they found the kinds of behaviour listed above to be threatening if they were alone when it took place.
‘Relationship Double Standards’
Survey respondents said there were ‘clear double standards’ for males and females in relation to relationships and sex. Three in four of the 11-21 year old girls surveyed felt that females were judged more harshly than boys for the same sexual behaviour, with only 3% (less than one in twenty) feeling the opposite. In addition, most of the 16-21 year olds questioned said that they felt too much responsibility was placed on girls for their sexual safety.
The survey also revealed issues with body images and self-perception – with 71% of 11-21 year old girls saying they would like to lose weight, and three quarters agreeing that boys’ expectations of what girls should look like were driven by female portrayal in the media.
Girls also felt they were discriminated against whilst at work, with almost half (46%) of 11-21 year olds thinking that having children in the future would be damaging for their career, and most 16-21 year olds worrying to some extent that employers prefer to employ men rather than women.
Despite these findings, the research also suggested that girls remain positive – with more than half (55%) hoping to get on top of their career, and almost three quarters (70%) wanting to combine their work with being a parent. Around a tenth (11%) suggested they would choose a career over being a mother.
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