In the past few years, gender equality has resurfaced as a major issue in the U.S. public sphere. The 2016 presidential election fueled a massive Women’s March, one of the largest protests in U.S. history, in January 2017. An anniversary Women’s March took place across the country in January 2018. The #MeToo movement erupted in 2017 and continues through today. Discussions ranging from parental leave to the gender pay gap and sexual harassment in the workplace have made front-page headlines and sparked national debates—but the voices of adolescent girls and boys on these issues have not often been heard.
While Plan International USA has traditionally focused on our program work in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, we also recognize that—as a development organization focused on girls’ rights—the issue of girls’ equality is one that is still far from having been adequately addressed even in this country. How do American adolescents feel about gender equality? Are they more progressive than the adult population on gender roles? Do they think equality exists between boys and girls? Men and women? What shapes their views? Does playing with gender-specific toys or having a mom in a traditional gender role relate to their opinions on equality? What gender-related societal pressures do they perceive and internalize? Has the #MeToo movement made an impact?
To explore these questions and more, we commissioned an extensive public opinion study of U.S. adolescents, ages 10 to 19, on issues and experiences related to gender equality, in an effort to understand how children and youths’ views on gender equality are influenced and perhaps provide a starting point to ensuring girls everywhere—in the U.S. and overseas—are valued and provided equal opportunities to learn, lead, decide, and thrive.
Global experts at Plan International USA and Promundo have drawn from their decades of U.S. and global research and experience to provide concrete tips to help parents talk to their sons about healthy masculinity and self-expression.
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
Now that we know more about the influences shaping children’s and adolescents’ views and experiences around gender equality, we want to hear what they have to say about the solutions. How do we make sure everyone is valued and has the same opportunities to succeed? We know young people have the answers, and we want to support their efforts in changing the status quo—to achieve a world where girls and boys can be powerfully seen and heard!