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Nine in 10 Australian girls not treated equally to boys: survey reveals sexism still rife

October 11 2016 By Hannah Grant, Media and Ambassador Program Manager, Our Watch

Australian girls think sexism is preventing them from fulfilling their potential.

That’s a key finding in a survey of 600 Australian girls aged 16-19 years commissioned by Our Watch and Plan International Australia.

The Everyday sexism: girls’ and young women’s views on gender inequality in Australia report, released for International Day of the Girl on 11 October, outlines girls’ views on discrimination and sexism at home, at school, and in their private and public lives. 

Everyday sexism report: At a glance summary

Less than one in 10 girls (8%) feel they are always treated equally to boys and only one in six girls (14%) say they always receive the same opportunities to succeed as boys. 

Many of those surveyed feel held back by their gender. One in three girls felt that housework is seldom or never equally shared with their brothers. And one in three agreed with the statement: "it'd be easier to get dream job if I was a man."

More than half responded they were sometimes, seldom or never ‘valued for their brains and ability more than their looks’.  Only one girl out of six said they were always respected for their talents rather than their physical appearance. 

​Key findings: Everyday sexism report

  • Only one in 10 girls aged 16-19 feel they are always treated equally to boys. 
  • One in three girls agreed with the statement: "it'd be easier to get dream job if I was a man".
  • Two-thirds (69%) think gender inequality is still a problem in Australia.
  • 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.
  • Only one in six girls (14%) feel they are always given the same opportunities to get ahead in life as boys. 
  • One in three girls felt that housework is seldom or never equally shared with their brothers.
  • 41% of girls say lack of support will impact on their decisions around starting a family.

Plan International Australia Deputy CEO Susanne Legena said sexism is an ‘insidious, pervasive and serious societal issue in Australia’.

“What these girls are telling us is that inequality starts early and is everywhere – in our homes, in school, and on the streets. It’s gravely concerning that girls, in 2016, are saying they don’t feel valued for their intellect and their opinions,” Ms Legena said.

“We know there is a pocket money gender gap and that many girls do more housework than their brothers. It’s up to all of us – parents, teachers, men, boys, women and governments – to ensure girls and young women are respected, valued, encouraged and supported, and always treated as equals to boys and young men.”

Our Watch CEO Mary Barry said that addressing gender inequality, a key driver of violence against women, is essential if we are to end this violence in Australia. 

“Violence against women begins with disrespect and gender inequality. As this survey shows, we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in Australia,” said Ms Barry. 

“A culture where there is no violence against women is possible, but it requires a big shift in attitudes, behaviours and policy.  The way men and women employ, teach, parent and relate to each other must be grounded in equity and respect.  

“We must find a new normal; as long as girls and women are seen as less equal than boys and men, violence against women will continue,” Ms Barry said.

Media contacts

Plan International Australia: Jane Gardner, 0438 130 905, jane.gardner@plan.org.au 
Our Watch: Hannah Grant, 0448 844 930, hannah.grant@ourwatch.org.au

About the survey

The Plan International Australia/Our Watch survey on young women’s experiences of inequality was conducted by IPSOS Australia with 600 girls and young women aged 15-19 between December 2015 and February 2016. Plan International and Our Watch commissioned this survey to obtain a deeper understanding of young women’s gendered experiences, their most pressing desires for change, and their insights into how to address gender inequality in Australia. Similar surveys have been conducted by Plan International in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe.

This survey explored young women’s experiences, perceptions and suggestions for change in three key areas:
  • Everyday experiences of gender equality, inequality and sexism.
  • Girls’ and young women’s safety – online, at home, school and work, and in relationships.
  • Sexual health and reproductive rights. 

Media please note, the chapters on public safety and on online safety were previously released earlier this year. 

About Plan International Australia

Plan International Australia is one of the world’s oldest and largest child rights development agencies. We work in over 70 countries around the world to tackle the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice. Plan’s flagship ‘Because I am a Girl Campaign’ is working to create a world that values girls, promotes their rights and ends injustice. 

About Our Watch

Our Watch leads Australia's work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation drives nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children. To do this Our Watch works to increase gender equality and respect in all aspects of everyday life, such as through schools; workplaces; media; sporting organisations; social marketing, and developing and influencing public policy.