Girls are significantly more successful than boys in making the transition to adulthood and their outcomes, especially in education and youth offending, reflect this. Girls do better in their exams, more of them go to university and, for the first time, women aged 22–29 have closed the gender pay gap, with young women getting paid 2.1 per cent more than their male peers.
But alongside this success, British teenage girls experience worse rates of binge drinking, worse levels of physical inactivity and more frequent incidences of teen pregnancy than their European counterparts. In the course of this research, we found evidence that twice as many teenage girls as teenage boys suffer from ‘teen angst’.
This generation of teenagers has it tough, facing a more difficult environment in which to make that transition, especially in relation to the present labour market and to new technology, with online social networking opening a new and unregulated for their peer relationships and influences.
There has never been a more crucial time for effective and targeted youth policy. The Coalition’s youth strategy, due later this year, must address the growing calls for action to support young women and girls. Through the Looking Glass recommends this is achieved through tackling child poverty and youth unemployment; supporting parents at key transition points in their children’s development; and encouraging positive relationships with peers.