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Everyday sexism: Girls' and young women's views on gender inequality in Australia

The everyday sexism: Girls’ and young women’s views on gender inequality in Australia report, outlines young women’s views on discrimination and sexism at home, at school, and in their private and public lives. 

A survey of 600 Australian girls aged 16-19 years was commissioned by Our Watch and Plan International Australia and the report released for International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October 2016. 

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At a glance: Everyday sexism report

On gender equality:

  • Only one in 10 girls aged 16-19 feel they are always treated equally to boys. 
  • Two-thirds (69%) think gender inequality is a still problem in Australia
  • Only one in six girls (14%) feel they are always given the same opportunities to get ahead in life as boys. 
  • Half of all girls say they are seldom or never valued for their brains over their looks. 
  • Only one in six girls say they are always valued for their brains and ability.

On work:

  • Many young women believed that their gender is (or will be) a barrier to their participation in the workforce.
  • One in three girls agreed with the statement: "it'd be easier to get dream job if I was a man."

At school:

  • Australia is an international leader in gender equality in education. A large proportion of young women (87 percent) stated their parents always or often encouraged them to succeed at school just as much as boys. 
  • However, in this survey close to one in four young women (24 percent) disagreed that their teachers would take action if sexist name calling was taking place at their school, suggesting that schools continue to be a place where harmful acts of ‘everyday sexism’ are allowed to occur.

At home:

  • One in three girls felt that housework is seldom or never equally shared with their brothers/boys.  
  • 41% of girls say lack of support will impact on their decisions around starting a family.

In public places and on public transport:

For some young women, concerns about personal safety are limiting their free movement in public spaces. 
  • Almost one third of respondents thought that “girls should not be out in public places after dark”
  • Over one in five (23 percent) thought that “girls should not travel alone on public transport”.

Online:

The discrimination, inequality and harassment experienced by young women in the physical environment extends to online.
  • Seven out of ten survey respondents agreed that girls are often bullied online. Sexual harassment in this context also appears common.
  • Over half (51 percent) the young women surveyed agreeing that “girls are often pressured to take “sexy” photos of themselves and share them”.

What does this mean?

In Australia, gender inequality is linked to physical, emotional and sexual violence, reduced workforce participation, the gender pay gap, superannuation inequality, the unequal distribution of child care and labour in the home.

Every day, in a multitude of ways, girls are still not as valued as equal members of the community. Many young Australian women, like young women in other parts of the world still experience and perceive inequality, lack of security, and disrespect whether at home, on public transport, in public spaces, online, at work, and in their relationships. 

The current experience of gender inequality for young women in Australia does not need to continue. We can make Australia a safer and more equal place for girls and young women. If we are to change these experiences and begin creating a future that delivers genuine gender equality, we must as a country, and as a community, take decisive action to address gender inequality now.

The experiences of the young Australian women documented in this report demand a significant and sustained response from Australian governments and all sectors of the broader community. 

This response must address the gendered drivers of this inequality, discrimination, and violence -  drivers that are so deeply entrenched and ingrained at all levels of our society and culture, that they are often invisible to many.

Read the full report here. 
Survey finds one third Australian girls report not feeling safe in public places after dark
​Australian girls aged 15-19 report endemic online abuse and harassment – new survey