Girl Guiding’s 2013 Attitude Survey:
The newest report from girl guides on their attitudes survey, exploring how girls feel about equality.
Having a good job or career comes top of the list for girls and young women when thinking about what they personally need in life to help them do well and be happy in the future. Of 7- to 21-year-olds, 45% spontaneously mentioned a good job or career, while 32% referred to money or financial security.
Two thirds of young women aged 16 to 21 agree that ambition is important to help them do well and be happy today (67%).
Concern about inequality in employment increases as girls get older and have closer contact with the world of work. For those aged 16 to 21 the majority think that employers to some extent prefer to employ men over women (54%). Many among this age group have a part-time job and this experience may inform their concern – 22% of those aged 14 and up have a part-time job, while 18% of those aged 19 to 21 work full time.
Younger girls, aged 11 to 16, are less concerned, with the majority saying that women and men have equal chances of succeeding in their chosen careers (68%). This age-related difference is also evident in girls’ concern about the pay gap between women and men. Of those aged 16 to 21, 60% say they worry about this, compared to 39% among 11- to 16-year-olds.
Girls feel that more women in leadership positions would have a positive impact on gender equality. Some feel that the low number of female leaders means that their own opportunities will be limited, while others use this ‘role model deficit’ as a motivation.
Two in three girls aged 11 to 21 think that there are not enough women in leadership positions in the UK (66%), rising to 71% of 16- to 21-year-olds. Most think that a better gender balance would be beneficial – 63% say that more female leaders would mean a better deal for women in general.
The lack of women in leadership positions has a mixed effect on girls’ ambitions. Just over half are to some extent put off, feeling that they have less chance of succeeding themselves (54%), with almost one in three feeling this quite strongly (29%). However, almost as many say that this lack of women in leadership positions makes them feel more determined to succeed themselves (46% feel this, 29% feel this quite strongly).
Over half of those aged 7 to 21 (55%) would like to be a leader in their chosen profession. This is true across the age range, but highest for those aged 16 to 21, with almost six in ten saying this (58%).
Girls recognise that it continues to be a challenge for women to achieve a good balance in their lives and are aware that motherhood still disadvantages women in the workplace.Seven out of ten girls and young women aged 7 to 21 want to combine having children and maintaining a career (70%). A significant minority, more than one in ten, say they would prefer to have a full-time career and not have children (11%).
However, many girls and young women are concerned that having children will have a negative effect on their career. As girls get older this concern increases – 46% of those aged 11 to 21, including 56% of those aged 16 to 21, worry about this. Of girls aged 11 to 21, 61% agree to at least some extent that it is very hard to balance motherhood and a career, and 42% don’t think there are enough examples of women who successfully combine motherhood and a career (rising to 51% of those aged 16 to 21). While many say they would like the option of working part-time, more than half feel that there are not enough opportunities to do so (58%). Of those aged 11 to 21, 43% want to have children and continue to work full-time, and 34% want to have children and work part-time.
The overwhelming view is that girls expect to enjoy equal parenting responsibilities with their partners, but they are worried that gender stereotypes and financial constraints perpetuate inequality. Of girls and young women aged 7 to 21, 88% think that both parents should be able to share time off after their baby is born (rising to 93% of 11- to 21-year-olds), indicating very strong enthusiasm for involving fathers as well as mothers in childcare. Girls recognise how gender stereotypes might influence decision-making here though, with 41% saying that many people look down on stay-at-home dads.
Of girls aged 11 to 21, 65% are concerned about the cost of childcare. A significant proportion, especially among younger girls, say they would look to their own parents for support with childcare – 59% of those aged 7 to 21 say that they would expect their parents or carers to help them with childcare if they have children.