It’s (still) a rich man’s world

2018 has been heralded as the “year of the woman”, an important milestone 100 years on from the first women in the UK getting the vote and a turning point in the struggle for women’s equality. But how much is life really improving for women, especially young women, and what are the prospects for achieving equality?

This is the third Young Women’s Trust annual survey and the latest to find that the situation facing many young people is deeply troubling.

While considerable numbers of young people are doing well, many are clearly struggling financially and emotionally. This year’s survey once again shows that young women remain more likely than young men to be affected by job insecurity, money worries and debt. Significant numbers have also experienced sexual harassment, discrimination and low confidence at work.

One hundred years ago the first women got the vote, but those who were aged under 30 or poor remained locked out of voting for another decade. While all women in the UK now have equal voting rights, our annual survey has found that in other respects many young women still have more limited opportunities than their male counterparts – with career prospects, spending power and wellbeing trailing behind those of young men.

If the year 2018 is to be a turning point for women’s equality and not just a footnote in history, then it’s clear that we need deeds, not just words. We need to be impatient for change: a lot has been achieved in the last 100 years, but at the current rate of progress women’s equality remains beyond reach.

A concerted effort is therefore needed from government and employers to provide young people with security and hope for the future, redress gender inequality at work and help manage the growing mental health crisis among young people. This effort, our research suggests, needs to be particularly focused on young women, especially those from lower socio-economic groups who are the most likely to be struggling financially and emotionally.