According to a study from humanitarian organisation Plan International
New poll figures, taken from a survey of around 1000 ten- to 19-year-old Americans, have yielded an up-to-date look at the way young people experience and perceive gender dynamics. The data collected by research firm PerryUndem, for Plan International, suggests that young girls and women are approaching their male counterparts in terms of ambition and professional empowerment, but still feel overly sexualised.
Both female and male respondents (71% and 75%, respectively) agreed that having a successful career is a very important life goal, compared with having children or getting married (which only 34% of girls and 31% of boys considered important). Likewise, the survey doesn’t see a big gap between boys’ and girls’ political ambitions, with 35% of boys and 30% of girls having thought about being a politician when they’re older. Nor is there much difference between their enthusiasm for traditionally male-oriented subjects like the sciences and maths in school.
Where a disparity did emerge between male and female opinion, though, was on the topic of sexism; 51% of girls said they thought sexism was a big problem, compared with a paltry 19% of boys. Moreover, almost half of girls aged 14-19 reported hearing boys make sexual comments about girls every day, along with one in four 10-13 year olds.
Worryingly, a large majority of girls (83%) also perceived a link between “boys living in a culture where they have more power than girls” and the sexual assault and harassment that girls face.
Although Plan International’s study focuses on young people in America, the increasingly convergent international culture spread through mediums such as social networks makes the data relevant to most (especially Western) societies. And, while it looks like progress is being made regarding girls’ and women’s opinions of their own professional and political worth, there’s also a clear message that not enough is being done to level sexual and social inequalities.