Equality between women and men will not be achieved by legal change alone. The ways in which society, culture, communities and individuals view women and gender equality make a huge difference. People, including women themselves, have to believe in and support the idea that men and women are of equal value. We need to see an end to narrow or negative attitudes about women and outdated stereotypes that maintain inequality, and limit both women and men.

What's the issue?

The Fawcett Society campaigns to see an end to narrow or negative attitudes about women and outdated stereotypes in the media, popular culture and in education, which limit both women and men.

  • Young women experience gender norms and stereotypes which prevent them for reaching their full potential. Only one in three girls who take maths and science at GCSE progress to take a STEM subject at A-level or equivalent, compared to eight out of ten boys.
  • Harassment and misogyny is commonplace and growing. 49% of girls aged 11-21 say fear of abuse online makes them feel less able to share their views.
  • Sexism in the media is putting young women off going into politics. 41% of girls aged between nine and 16 think there has been a rise in media sexism in the last six months, while 39% said this has knocked their confidence, according to Girlguiding.
  • Our Sounds Familiar research shows that women face a persistent blame culture. 38% of all men and 34% of all women said that a woman is totally or partly to blame if she goes out late at night wearing a short skirt, gets drunk and is then the victim of a sexual assault.

In the media women are predominantly represented in passive and stereotyped roles in film and television. This also extends beyond fictional representations; in the news, women are far more likely to be shown as victims and to be referred to in terms of their age, physical appearance or family role than men. Moreover, the leadership of the media and culture industry is still dominated by white men.

In schools, while there are some positive examples, we are a long way from seeing women’s equality affirmed or mainstreamed across the curriculum. Schools need greater support around addressing sexual harassment and the bullying of girls, as well as guidance around tackling gender bias when providing careers and apprenticeship advice.

What are we calling for?

At The Fawcett Society, we believe ending gender stereotypes begins with education. We call for policies that support schools to:

  • Have statutory, good quality, age appropriate sex and relationships education in our schools. 84% of young women agree, according to our Sounds Familiar report. We welcomed the Governments announcement in 2017 that relationships education will be compulsory in primary and secondary school in England, and will continue campaigning to ensure this is delivered to be as effective and inclusive as possible.
  • Record and tackle gendered bullying and sexual harassment in schools alongside other incidents of bullying. Treat it as a safeguarding issue and develop policies and procedures for addressing gendered bullying and sexual harassment so that young women do not feel that they are left alone to deal with it and that all the responsibility is on them.
  • Address and challenge gender norms and stereotypes from the early years into adulthood which are pervasive across education, retailing, in the media and within the family.
  • Default young women into maths and science subject choices at school with an opt out, rather than relying on them to opt in, sending a clear message that ‘girls like you do subjects like this’, and increasing take up. The quality of careers information and advice must also be improved. The government and educational institutions must proactively tackle occupational segregation, with teachers themselves treated as key agents for change.

Campaign with us to end gender stereotyping

Help us take our message to schools

It is vital that young women know about the history of women's rights in Britain in order to tackle gender inequality in their everyday lives. We are launching our Future Fawcett: Suffrage outreach project, in celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage in 2018 to engage thousands of young women in this landmark year.

We want to recruit and train 100 volunteers to go into schools to talk about 100 years of women’s votes, and the challenges faced by young women today. Support Future Fawcett by donating or signing up to be a volunteer.

Read our Sounds Familiar report

Our Sounds Familiar report revealed some shocking truths about the prevalence of gender stereotypes and victim-blaming, and their harmful effects on the lives of young women today. Get informed now.


The most effective way to campaign for the end of misogyny and gender norms is to become a Fawcett member. Your support means we can continue to produce impactful research and campaigns that change attitudes and outdated policies. Join us now.