Sexism Starts Early – How We Can Help

After surveying girls and boys between the ages of 12-17 in September 2018, the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) has released a report called Sexism, Feminism & Equality: What Teens in Canada Really Think, revealing that gender inequality is an issue faced by young girls – even before they reach their teen years. Read on to learn more about the survey findings and how we as adults can help.

Survey says.

The survey results revealed that sexism isn’t just an issue faced by adults, it starts early for girls. On average, girls in Canada first notice gender inequality in their lives around 11 years of age! Girls are twice as likely as boys to report experiencing sexism, and female respondents say gender inequality has impacted their lives (43% vs. 21%). According to the survey results, one in three girls (35%) say they have been treated unequally because of their gender.

“More than half of girls (54%) say they first experienced (gender inequality) between the ages of 10 and 13.” 

Where is gender inequality most apparent?

According to the survey, the gender biases are noticed primarily in sports and online.

“One quarter (27%) of girls say they’re treated worse than boys in sports or gym, while 15% of boys say they’re treated better. One quarter of girls (24%) also say they’re treated worse than boys on the internet, including over social media, while 14% of boys say they’re treated better online.”

Sports were especially noted as a challenge for girls when it comes to receiving equal treatment, with respondents noting that there are fewer opportunities available for girls who want to compete on competitive sports teams.

A gender wage gap was also revealed as an issue faced by teens. Reports showed that girls received an average of $3 per hour less than boys while working in summer jobs this year. Aware that this is a public issue for adult women, many teen girls worry about facing the same wage gap issues when they enter the workforce upon completion of school.

“More than half (55%) of girls are concerned they will be treated unequally or unfairly at work because of their gender.”

What can we do?

According to the report’s conclusion, it is important to listen to girls as the experts on their own needs and lived experiences. We need to address the ways discrimination and sexism pervade girls’ lives and how it influences their outlook on the future. As we know from past research, expectations about future discrimination and inequality can dissuade girls from following through on their aspirations.

On the issue of gender-based violence, an overwhelming number of survey respondents agreed that it is important for students to learn about consent in school.

In response to their survey results, the GGC shares, “As the leading organization for girls and women in Canada, we need to understand what girls experience so that we can support girls to become everything they want to be. Society needs to make meaningful space for girls and actively listen to girls’ voices, so that decision-makers, service providers and institutions can be responsive to girls’ needs. We challenge adults in Canada – parents, teachers, coaches, family members, and neighbours – to listen to what girls are saying so that they can play their part, too.”

For full survey results, please visit this page.

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