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How low self esteem costs women their future success


April 1, 2012 - London

One in four girls have low self-esteem, buckling under pressure to conform to the idealised notion of how they should look, a new study has revealed.

According to the study, conducted by the Future Foundation think tank, Britain could lose some 319,000 future businesswomen, lawyers and doctors, as well as more than 60 women MPs by 2050 unless young women can be helped to retain confidence in their own abilities.

The knock-on effect - a loss of future potential - could reduce the chances of another female prime minister being elected by 2050 from 73 percent to 62 percent.

It would mean two fewer female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies. When it comes to sporting achievement, Britain could see 16 female medallists at the 2024 Olympics rather than the 19 that could be achieved - the legacy of 14 per cent of girls not having the confidence to pursue elite sport.

The predictions are based on face-to-face interviews with 500 girls between 11 and 17 from across Britain, the results of which were mapped on to forecasts of future employment.

Negative comments about their appearance from other girls are one of the biggest factors making girls feel less confident (45 per cent). And low self-esteem damages their prospects, with only one in three confident that she will have a successful career.

According to the researchers, unhappiness with their appearance is a key factor. More than half of the girls studied (52 per cent) said they would be happier if they were more beautiful.

Some 800,000 children have already had self-esteem classes, and the company is working with the eating-disorder charity Beat to provide more than 1,400 classes this year.

"Even among high-achieving girls, those with lower self-esteem were significantly less likely to be aimed for "high profile" careers in future," the Independent quoted William Nelson, director of research at The Future Foundation, as saying.

"In every profession we looked at, we predict decent growth in the presence of women in coming decades - but numbers of women will not grow as strongly as they could if lowered self-esteem among girls and young women were to be addressed," he said.

Penny Newman, chief executive of Platform 51 (formerly YWCA), also agreed that body issues make women less confident.

"Every day we work with girls and women who suffer from low self-esteem. Whether it presents as a lack of confidence about their ability, their body or their worth, these deep-seated anxieties really hold girls back from achieving their potential," she said.

"Childhood trauma or issues around body image are often to blame," she added.

ANI

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