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Half of Canadian girls notice gender inequality between ages 10 and 13, Girl Guides poll finds

Girls are two times more likely than boys to say they've experienced sexism, and are more likely to say gender inequality has affected their lives, according to a survey commissioned by the Girl Guides of Canada.

Feelings of inequality are pronounced on the sports field and online, says survey

According to the survey results, 54 per cent of girls said they first noticed gender inequality in their lives between the ages of 10 and 13. (Canadian Press )

Girls are two times more likely than boys to say they've experienced sexism, and are more likely to say gender inequality has affected their lives, according to a survey commissioned by the Girl Guides of Canada.

According to the poll, 54 per cent of girls said they first noticed gender inequality between age 10 and 13.

The findings are based on a nationwide survey of more than 1,200 girls and boys, primarily aged 12 to 17. It asked questions about attitudes and behaviours related to gender inequality, sexism and feminism.

Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of the Girl Guides of Canada, said because most previous research focused on women's economic inequality or experiences in the workplace, she was shocked to learn just how early those experiences with inequality began.

"I think a lot of people think about gender inequality coming up sort of as you go through your life — that it's hard to make it into the C-suite, or it's hard to make partner at that law firm," she said.

"But what we found in the study is that one out of every three girls said that they'd been treated unfairly because of their sex — and these are girls between 12 and 17."

Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of the Girl Guides of Canada, said the most surprising result was how early experiences with inequality began. (Maggie Brown/CBC)

Treated differently in sports, online

According to the survey, feelings of inequality are particularly pronounced on the sports field and online.

Twenty-seven per cent of girls said they're treated worse than boys in sports or gym class, while 15 per cent of boys said they're treated better.

Nearly one quarter of girls (24 per cent) also said they're treated worse than boys on the internet, including over social media, while 14 per cent of boys say they're treated better online.

Zelmanovits said they were also concerned about ensuring girls feel safe about speaking about their experiences.

"Even though that high number of girls talked about experiencing gender inequality, about a third of them said that they were scared or hesitant to speak out about it, they didn't want to talk about it," she said.

"We know that with the #MeToo movement and just sort of the amount of discussion that there is right now around gender inequality,  it's certainly not a bad thing that more girls are identifying it because it means that we're actually talking about it.

"It's only when we actually talk about it that we'll be able to address it and change how we act."

The survey was commissioned by Girl Guides of Canada through Ipsos as an online poll of 1,203 girls and boys in Canada, primarily aged 12-17, between Sept. 5 and 17, 2018. A randomized sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 3.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

With files from Megan Batchelor​

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