Girls’ career confidence plummets as they near the world of work, suggests research by Girlguiding.
A poll of 1,627 girls and young women showed they felt less powerful as they progressed through secondary school.
Only a third of the 17- to 21-year-olds questioned felt they would do as well as their male peers, against 90% of the nine- to 10-year-olds.
“It is our responsibility to change this,” said Girlguiding Chief Executive Julie Bentley.
The young women interviewed were a representative sample and not necessarily connected with Girlguiding, says the charity.
The results show:
- 90% of nine- and 10-year-old girls felt they would have the same chance as boys at succeeding in their chosen jobs
- this dropped to 54% among 11- to 16-year-olds
- and to 35% among 17 to 21-year-olds.
And only a quarter of the older group said they felt “powerful” compared with a third of 11- to 16-year-old girls.
Girlguiding says the data charts how girls’ attitudes to themselves change as they become more aware of the barriers facing women in the workplace.
|Aged seven to 10||Aged 17 to 21|
|I feel confident in myself||63%||31%|
|I can do anything if I try||74%||40%|
|I am proud of something I have achieved||75%||41%|
“This new research shows girls are lacking in confidence at an important stage in their lives when they are starting to think about the future, enter work or begin university,” said Ms Bentley.
“As the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women it’s our responsibility to change this…
“Guiding builds girls’ confidence and empowers them to take on leadership roles from the very earliest age – giving them the safe space and support they need to grow and develop their potential.”
Girlguiding has enlisted leading female executives to mentor guides aged 14 to 17 from across the UK at a special camp in Bedfordshire this week.
Commercial director at high-speed rail company HS2, Beth West, said that by taking part she hoped “to inspire and encourage young women to feel there are no barriers to achieving their goals”.
And Sevasti Wong, managing director at consultancy company Accenture, said it was crucial “to dispel the myth… that maths and science are too hard for girls”.
Guide Sophie, 16, from Cambridge, said she hoped to develop confidence, leadership skills and resilience at the camp, while Emma, also 16, from Kilrea, said it would be a “fantastic opportunity to meet incredible women who have years of experience in leadership roles”.
The full survey, carried out online by Childwise, will be published in September.
Separate research published today by the Association of Graduate Recruiters suggests female graduates are less likely to aim for top jobs than men but more likely to land them if they apply.