The Dream Gap for Girls

Plan International Australia’s The Dream Gap: Australian girls’ views on inequality report investigates girls’ experiences of inequality, their ambitions to lead and their views on gender stereotypes as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood.

The survey, conducted by Essential Research, reveals a remarkable loss of confidence as girls transition into the teenage years and a growing awareness of inequality in all areas of their lives. Almost all (93%) of girls aged 15-17 said it would be easier to get ahead in life if they were not judged on their appearance.

As girls get older, their confidence decreases – from 56 per cent of girls viewing themselves as confident at 10, to 44 per cent by the time they reach 17, to just 27 per cent when they reach adulthood (18-25).

Key findings

  • At all ages, in all spaces, girls don’t think they are treated equally to boys. Almost all (98%) of girls surveyed said boys and girls receive unequal treatment – this is most profound in sports, followed by in the media (TV and magazines), at school and at home.
  • After inequality, girls are most concerned with being scrutinised by the way they look rather than appreciated for their abilities and talents. Almost all (93%) of girls aged 15-17 said it would be easier to get ahead in life if they were not judged on their appearance.
  • A large number of girls surveyed felt it would be easier to get ahead if they were treated the same way as boys are (91%).
  • As girls get older, their confidence decreases – from 56 per cent of girls viewing themselves as confident at 10, to 44 per cent by the time they reach 17. And it’s a sharper decline to just 27% as they enter adulthood (18-25).
  • 40% of girls think gender is the single biggest barrier to their chances of becoming a leader.
  • Above all else, girls just want to be treated as equals. When asked what change they want to see in the world, 50% of girls aged 10 to 14 in this survey said – unprompted – gender equality, including equal pay.
  • Young men agree they have a role to play to support young women to lead (59% agree) however they are less likely to say seeing more women in power is important to them (50% agree).
  • Plan International Australia is calling for:
  • State and territory governments should remove gendered school uniforms, and instead give girls and boys the opportunity to choose what uniform they wear.
  • The Government should work with media and the advertising industry to ban sexist advertising, excessive use of Photoshop to prevent girls and boys growing up with unhealthy stereotypes.
  • Government and business should work together to fight the gender pay gap, including conducting gender pay gap audits.


About the Dream Gap survey:
Essential Research (using the Qualtrics platform) conducted a survey for Plan International Australia from 24 July 2017 to 14 August 2017. This report covers the survey responses of 817 girls aged 10–14 years and 925 girls aged 15–17 years. Essential Research recruited these respondents with thanks to Girl Guides Australia and Dr Stephen Biddulph.

More info here.

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