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Outdated stereotyping is still damaging girls' and women's confidence

21 September 2017

Women and Equalities Committee Chair Maria Miller responds to Girls' Attitudes Survey 2017.

Sexual harassment occurs when sexist stereotypes flourish

Commenting on Girlguiding's Girls' Attitudes Survey, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said:

"Outdated stereotyping is still damaging girls' and women's confidence and needs to be effectively tackled from an early age.

Furthermore, the high levels of sexual harassment that girls are still experiencing at school is of deep concern given the Government's undertaking to tackle this unacceptable behaviour following the Select Committee report a year ago. 
These problems are linked: sexual harassment occurs when sexist stereotypes flourish. The Government has to show more urgency; there must be clear guidance for schools that leaves them in no doubt about their responsibilities to keep girls safe and tackle gender stereotypes, as well as support for those experiencing harassment and abuse.

We will be keeping a close eye on Government action on this issue over the coming months."


The Girls' Attitudes Survey found that:

  • 64% of girls aged 13-21 say they have experienced sexual harassment in the last year, compared with 59% in the 2014 survey
  • At the time of responding, 27% of girls aged 11- 21 said their skirts have been pulled up by boys at school or college in the past week alone.

The Women and Equalities Committee report, Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools, published on 13th September 2016 found that:

  • Almost a third (29%) of 16-18 year old girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school;
  • Nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-18 year old boys and girls say they hear terms such as "slut" or "slag" used towards girls at schools on a regular basis;
  • 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year.

The report recommended that the Government must act to protect and empower a generation of children and young people. Key recommendations include:

  • The Government should introduce a statutory obligation for every school to take appropriate action to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Schools will need support from Government to achieve this, including clear national guidance.
  • Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate must assess schools on how well they are recording, monitoring, preventing and responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
  • Every child at primary and secondary school must have access to high quality, age-appropriate relationships and sex education delivered by well-trained individuals through making Relations and Sex Education (RSE) a statutory subject; investing in teacher training; and investing in local third sector specialist support. The Children and Social Work Act 2017 made relationships education in Primary Schools and relationships and sex education in Secondary Schools compulsory and required the Secretary of State to publish guidance.

Further information

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