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Girls in Scotland still believe life is harder for them

This news post is about 4 years old

Research from Girlguiding Scotland has revealed how much inequality girls and young women still face at home, in relationships and in school or work

More than three quarters of girls believe they are treated differently because they are female, and almost a third say this happens often or always.

Young Girlguides aged between 7 and 25 also expect to experience challenges in their career because they are women. 62% of girls said they’d like to be a leader in their chosen career but 45% says they think this will be harder because they are female.

The new statists from Girlguiding Scotland were released to mark the international campaign 16-days of activism to end violence against women and girls.

Nearly one in two girls (46%) age 7-25 said they felt they would have more freedom if they were a boy, a third said their family treated them differently because of their gender and 28% said they had to do more housework or chores.

The figures also suggest sex and social education in schools is still failing young people as 78^ says they learnt (or are learning) nothing about consent in relationships at school.

Life for Scottish girls in 2018

  • 15% of girls said they felt unhappy most of the time.
  • While 40% of girls age 7-11 describe themselves as very happy this drops to just 19% for girls age 18 to 25
  • Shockingly, 37% of girls age 13-25 said they knew a girl their age who had experienced sexual assault or rape while 43% knew a girl who had experienced violence or controlling behaviour from a partner.
  • Nine in 10 girls said they’d like to see the achievements of women better represented in their school’s curriculum.
  • 66% of girls age 12-25 said they learned about the achievements of women in history, modern studies and citizenship classes, but only 57% in English and 43% in science, technology, engineering and maths.
  • 78% of girls age 13-25 said they learn or learnt little or nothing about healthy relationships
  • 90% said they learn or learnt little or nothing about online pornography
  • 84% said they learn or learnt little or nothing about gender equality
  • Mental illness appears common among girls age 13-25 with 77% saying they know a girl their age who has experienced depression, and 63% saying they know a girl who has experienced self-harm.
  • A third of girls age 13-25 said they experienced harassment while out and about in their community, while nearly one in five said they felt unsafe going to their local park by themselves.

And girls’ optimism appears to decline as they get older, while 61% of girls age 7 to 11 strongly agree that they can do anything a boy can do, this drops to just 45% of girls age 12 to17 and 39% of girls age 18 to 25.

Hannah Brisbane, Girlguiding Scotland’s lead volunteer for voice, said the findings show there is still a long way to go before all girls in Scotland can look forward to an equal future.

She says: “As our new research shows, gender inequality casts a long shadow over girls’ everyday lives and their views of the future.

“As the leading charity for girls and young women in the country, we want to create a future where girls know the only limit on what they can achieve is their imagination and a present where girls can feel safe and happy in their everyday lives. We hope this research will play an important role in highlighting the issues girls are up against and how we can all play a part in making Scotland the best possible place to be a girl.”

Girls expressed high expectations for equal treatment at home and in the workplace – with 86% of girls age 7-25 saying they expect to split childcare and housework equally with their partner and 91% saying the expected to have the same career opportunities as men.

And 8 in 10 girls said they would not work for an employer who pays female employees less than male employees.

Louise Macdonald OBE, Chair of the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls, welcomed the research saying: “It is shocking that in 2018, nearly 8 in 10 girls in Scotland say they experience gender inequality in their day to day lives; that nearly one in two girls feel they would have more freedom if they were a boy, and that 45% of girls say becoming a leader in their careers will be harder because they are female.

“These figures, and the many others like them in this research, show that, for all our progress, we still have a long way to go to ensure girls in Scotland can feel truly equal in their everyday lives and future careers. I hope these findings will challenge decision-makers, educators, employers and everyone with a stake in girls’ lives to play their part in delivering an equal future for girls as a matter of urgency.”

Girls happiness appears to decline steeply as they get older; 40% of girls age 7-11 describe themselves as ‘very happy’ most of the time but this drops to just 25% of girls age 11-17 and 19% of girls age 18-25. Overall 15% of girls age 7-25 said they feel unhappy most of the time.
Girlguiding Scotland has around 50,000 young members across the country, and is committed to speaking out on the issues affecting girls’ lives.
Key figures



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