In 2014, YWCA Australia contracted the Institute of Social Science Research (ISSR) at the University of Queensland to conduct their annual She Speaks survey. Its aim was to highlight the voices of girls and young women aged 15-30, and explored a range of social and personal issues. It was the largest annual surveys collecting information from young women about their attitudes, perceptions and experiences of leadership.
She Speaks participants identified the importance of access to free or inexpensive healthcare and sexual healthcare, including contraception and family planning services. Girls and younger women identified experiencing sexism and media pressure and social expectations to conform to certain, sometimes unhealthy, body images Young women (notably those aged 15 to 20) perceive men’s attitudes as a great issue. They report being treated with less respect and faced with sexism but also discrimination in general: This concern is supported by current statistics and although, women worldwide, and especially in Australia, have more employment and education opportunities than ever before, gender inequality at the workplace is omnipresent. Young women are worried about the price they might pay for having children: lost promotions, lack of flexible return to work, and the impact on superannuation and retirement income. And they are worried about the high cost of childcare. The gender pay gap is hereby perceived as one major concern since it affects women’s economic independence throughout their whole life.
- 58% of girls and young women consider themselves to be a leader in their family, school, community and/or workplace.
- 71% of girls and young women would want to be leaders in future.
- Only 23% of young women believed they would see effective leadership in public life.
- 80% of girls and young women do not believe that equality has been achieved yet.
- 73% of participants do not perceive that men and women are valued equally in Australia.
- 90% of participants think that women experience discrimination.
- 77% of participants see themselves as someone who believes women and men should have political, economic and social equality.
- 79% of young women felt that gender-based stereotypes affected their day-to-day life.
- 30% of young women felt unable to seek help when experiencing violence in their relationship.
- Worryingly, 30% of participants felt that they were unable to identify problematic behaviours in relationships.
- 34% of young women say that they have received uninvited and unwanted indecent and/or sexually explicit texts/phone calls/messages.
- Almost 50% of participants believe that changing behaviours and cultures towards employed women and men is the most effective strategy to achieve workplace equality, followed by ‘changing the workplace to accommodate a family friendly policy’ at 40% and ‘visible female role models’ at 37%.
More information on the She Speaks survey can be found on the YWCA Australia website.