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Sexist media coverage is 'putting girls off politics' according to new study


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Young girls are being put off politics by sexist media coverage, according to new research.

Girlguiding Scotland is calling for action to end sexist coverage of female politicians following concerns young girls are feeling excluded from the political conversation.

A recent Girlguiding study found 41% of girls aged nine to 16 think there has been a rise in media sexism in the last six months, while over 39% of girls said seeing an increase in media sexism has knocked their confidence.

The infamous ‘Legs-it’ headline and the focus placed on female politicians’ appearances are cited as examples of the prolific sexism politicans such as Theresa May are experiencing under the media’s glare.

The call to tackle this has received backing from female politicians and campaigners including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour Inequalities Spokesperson Monica Lennon and Talat Yaqoob, Chair of the Women 50:50 Campaign.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is unacceptable that women and girls continue to face sexist attitudes that are putting them off playing a full role in our society and it is incumbent on all of us to work to change that."

With the General Election around the corner, Girlguiding Scotland is asking the media to focus on female politicians’ policies and manifestos, and not what shoes or makeup they are wearing. The charity says ending sexist coverage is important in engaging young girls with current political events and issues. 

Girlguiding Scotland’s members have also backed the call for change.

Hannah Brisbane, 20, a member of Girlguiding Scotland’s Senior Section, from Glasgow, said: “Now should be a really exciting time for girls to get involved in politics and make their voices heard but sexist coverage for female leaders and politicians is leaving us feeling side-lined from the conversation.

“As a politics student the kind of everyday sexism towards female leaders definitely gives me second thoughts about pursuing a career in politics if my looks are going to be considered the most important thing about me.”

Women make up just 29% of MPs at Westminster and 35% of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.  

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