Girlguiding UK recently questioned a selection of seven to 21 year old girls and found that those who had a narrow selection of role models also had limited future aspirations.
Around 55% of the girls questioned wished there were more aspirational female role models in the public limelight.
Many of the girls identified people like Amy Childs from TOWIE, and characters from C4 drama Skins as role models, prompting claims that these shows glamorise and normalise drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex.
Tracey Murray, head of guiding development, said: “The type of role models that [the girls] were talking to us about tended to come from the world of TV and rich and famous celebrities, rather than the broader range of role models, like women who work in business, sport and other walks of life. We want to hear that girls are exposed to a broad range of women, so that they can have aspirations and interests, and are encouraged to make the right choices for them in future.”
The study also found that one in six girls would be put off from studying science or engineering because these are ‘careers for boys’. Girls tended to aim for conventionally female-selective careers such as teaching (12%), hairdressing (10%), nursing and veterinary work (7%).
Despite the upcoming London Olympics, many girls struggled to name even one female athlete. Many expressed an interest in starting a business but most said they would be put off by the pressure and responsibility entrepreneurship involves.
In light of the worrying results, Girlguiding UK has teamed up with Everywoman (a nationwide membership organisation for women in business) to create a series of ‘day in the life’ videos of business women enjoying the daily flow of their successful careers. The campaign hopes to open young women’s minds to different careers, show them the diversity of choice available and provide them with inspirational women they can look up to.
Despite huge developments in equal rights over the past few decades, many young women are still being deprived of the chances to reach their full potentials. Whether this is due to a lack of inspiring female role models, or a lack of encouragement from teachers and parents, it’s clear to see more needs to be done to show girls that there is more to life than partying, shopping and looking good.
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