Landmark Report Reveals What Girls in Guiding Really Think
The UK’s largest youth organisation, Girlguiding UK, unveils the results of its first ever UK-wide survey of its members’ views
Girls shout out!, launched by Girlguiding UK today, presents the opinions of over 3,200 girls in guiding, aged from five to 25, on the issues shaping the lives of their generation. The new report is one of the most extensive surveys of girls’ and young women’s views conducted by any organisation in recent years. It signals Girlguiding UK’s commitment to making the views and voices of its half a million young members heard in the debates affecting young women today.
Girls shout out! finds young women in guiding to be ambitious, career-minded and optimistic. But they also describe inequalities, pressures and concerns across many different areas of their lives. As they strive to reconcile their aspirations with the challenges they face, they place huge value on friendships and the ability to spend time with other girls without any boys being there – building their self-confidence and their self-esteem.
Key findings include:
- Two thirds of 16- to 25-year-olds (63%) say equality has not been achieved for UK women
- Three quarters of 16- to 25-year-olds (73%) believe young women are stigmatised for behaviour that young men would not be criticised for
- Half of 16- to 25-year-olds worry that their careers will suffer if they have children
- A third of 16- to 25-year-olds (32%) say they got different school careers advice because they are girls ***
- BUT eight out of ten aged 16- to 25 (81%) and nine out of ten aged ten to 15 (90%) believe women can do any job they choose
- Four out of five aged 16- to 25 (81%) say they won’t depend on their partners financially
- 94% of those aged 16- to 25 and 88% aged ten- to 15 will go back to work after children
- Kelly Holmes is the top role model – along with Girlguiding UK Leaders and mums. Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham are the least positive role models ***
- The vast majority – rising from 70% of five- to seven-year-olds to a massive 96% of 16- to 25-year-olds – like to spend time together without boys being there
- And one in ten five- to ten-year-olds wants to be prime minister…
Announcing the report, Liz Burnley, Chief Guide said: ‘As the UK’s largest youth organisation we are proud to provide a safe girl-only space. Girlguiding UK has a unique responsibility to help girls and young women speak out about the issues affecting them most today. At a time when young people are too often stereotyped, criticised and denied a voice, we hope that our report Girls shout out! will be an opportunity for young women’s voices to be heard.’
An Unequal Struggle?
Two thirds of the 16- to 25-year-olds surveyed (63%) feel equality has not been achieved for women in the UK. Looking at the workplace, half of 16- to 25-year-olds worry that their careers will be negatively affected if they have children and 39% fear they will be paid less because they are women. One in five feels that it would be easier to be successful in their chosen careers if they were a man. And a third of 16- to 25-year-olds surveyed (32%) say the careers advice they were given at school was influenced by them being girls. Almost half (48%) worry they might overlook an interesting career because they have not been given proper advice. Or An Equal Opportunity? Despite these obstacles, 81% of the 16- to 25-year-olds and 90% of the ten- to 15-year-olds surveyed believe women can do any job they choose these days. A determined 37% of 16- to 25-year-olds want to do a job typically done by a man – to prove women can. When it comes to money, four out of five 16- to 25-year-olds (81%) say they will not be financially dependent on their partners. A third actively intend to earn more than their partners, as do 26% of ten- to 15-year-olds. And they are happy to stand up and be counted: two thirds of 16- to 25-year-olds (65%) would not be embarrassed to be thought of as feminists.
Having children is very important to 45% of ten-to-15-year-olds and to 56% of 16 to 25-year-olds – only 14% of ten- 25 year olds think a job is more important than having kids. 94% of 16- to 25-year-olds and 88% of ten- to 15-year-olds say they will go back to work afterwards. Two thirds (64%) of 16- to 25-year-olds would feel able to ask their partners to give up their jobs and take responsibility for childcare while they pursued their careers. And 89% of 16- to 25-year-olds and 71% of ten- to 14-year-olds say they intend to work until retirement.
Taking gold once again, Dame Kelly Holmes was voted the most positive female role model by a resounding 86% of 16- to 25-year-olds in guiding surveyed. Other popular choices from a list of well-known women were Princess Diana (81%), Lorraine Kelly (71%) and JK Rowling (68%). When girls of this age nominated their own positive role models, sportswomen Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Paula Radcliffe dominated the field. However, although Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham are both seen to have the greatest influence over young women by more than 95%, only 2% and 5% respectively see Kate and Victoria as positive examples.
Closer to home, mothers and Girlguiding UK Leaders held their own as strong and positive role models. Girlguiding UK Leaders are viewed as top role models by 78% and most influential by 44%, while 77% say mothers are the best role models and 57% say they are the most influential.
Values, Aspirations and Careers
Success at work is very important to three quarters (74%) of the ten- to 15-year-olds surveyed, almost twice as many as rate marriage so highly (38%). Similarly, 61% of 16- to 25-year-olds say a career is very important to them, while less than half say the same about marriage (48%). But having good friends is the top ambition, rated as very important by 89% of 16- to 25-year-olds and 88% of ten- to 15-year-olds, and is the single biggest influence on how positive girls feel about themselves. Over one in ten in the five- to seven-year-old age group (11%) and the seven- to ten-year-olds (12%) want to be scientists. A bold one in ten five- to seven-year-olds (12%) and seven- to ten-year-olds (9%) would like to be prime minister. 48% of ten- to 15 year olds would like to appear in a reality TV show, although the figures falls to 10% among less star struck 16 to 25 year olds.
Life Online and Cyber-bullying
Almost two fifths (38%) of ten- to 25-year-olds surveyed know someone who has had a rumour spread about them Online Slots. Half of 16- to 25-year-olds (51%), and over a third of ten- to 15-year-olds (36%), know someone who has received an abusive email. As a result, half the ten- to 15-year-olds surveyed say they or their friends worry about cyber-bullying and almost one in five (18%) 16- to 25-year-olds also admit they sometimes worry about being bullied online. Two fifths (41%) of ten- to 15-year-olds and three quarters (74%) of 16- to 25-year-olds do not feel schools provide sufficient protection from the problem.
Even more disturbingly, almost a quarter (23%) of ten- to 15-year-olds and almost two thirds (62%) of 16- to 25-year-olds know someone who has talked about meeting a stranger they have encountered on the Internet. Furthermore, 28% of ten- to 15-year-olds and 17% of 16- to 25-year-olds admit they know someone who has talked to a person online who turned out not to be who they said they were.
Media and Politics
Four out of five of the 16- to 25-year-olds surveyed (79%) feel politicians and the media are more interested in stigmatising young people than helping them to succeed. Eighty-six per cent feel that media portrayal prevents the needs of most young people being addressed by politicians. Two thirds (67%) feel this media misrepresentation is deliberate. Three quarters (73%) believe young women are maligned for behaviour that young men would not be criticised for. Almost two fifths of 16- to 25-year-olds (39%) categorically state that they ‘do not trust politicians’.
Being a Girl
Despite the challenges they face, close to three quarters across all age groups – 72% of five- to seven-year-olds, 67% of seven- to ten-year-olds, 74% of ten- to 15-year-olds and 77% of 16- to 25-year-olds – think it’s better to be a girl than a boy in the UK today. And the vast majority – 70% of five- to seven-year-olds, 73% of seven- to ten-year-olds, 81% of ten- to 15-year-olds and 96% of 16- to 25-year-olds – like to spend time together without any boys being there.
Commenting on the report, Girlguiding UK Young Leader Rachel Dedman (17) said: ‘It is really important for girls in guiding to know we are part of an organisation that is led by and listens to girls. Now we are aiming to make decision makers listen to the voices of the girls who have contributed to this report.’
Chief Guide Liz Burnley continued: ‘Girls have spoken up about the value of spending time together. That is why Girlguiding UK continues to use our girl-only space to develop girls’ confidence and self-esteem and expose them to the new skills and experiences they need to broaden their horizons and reach for bolder and more exciting goals. We prioritise leadership and management, team building, caring for others, taking the initiative, adventure and having fun – skills which our members can take into the rest of their lives as they face the many challenges and opportunities that today’s report has highlighted.’