Mums are more empowering than Beyonce, our research shows

26 March 2017

Mums are six times more likely than female celebrities, including popstars and actresses, to land the top female role model spot a survey by Girlguiding has shown.

Well over half (58%) of the respondents who named their biggest female role model growing up rated their Mum or female guardian top, with celebrities including the often-celebrated female icons Madonna and Beyoncé coming a far second with just 10% of the vote. 

When asked who their top female role model was growing up:

  • 58% of the respondents who provided an answer said mother (or female guardian) – with the 25 to 34 year old age group being the most likely to cite their Mum (65%) 
  • Compared to 10% who rated a female celebrity top with  Madonna, Emma Watson and Victoria Beckham getting frequent mentions
  • 5% said a female politician inspired them with Margaret Thatcher being the most popular. Shockingly, no-one polled in the 18-24 year old age group said they looked up to a female politician compared to 8% of respondents aged 45 to 54
  • Just 4% rated a famous sportswoman top highlighting the lack of coverage and awareness about women in sport
  • Worryingly, just 2% said a famous woman working in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) was their role model and even fewer respondents could actually name a well-known female working in this field

These results chime with former Girlguiding research showing that 55% of girls feel there aren’t enough positive female role models in the media*  and highlight the massive influence Mums and female guardians have in girls’ lives.

This Mother’s Day, we're celebrating the amazing work mums do as role models to both their own daughters, and to other girls.

When we asked Brownies and Guides why their Mums are such great role models they said:

I look up to my Mum 100% because she is kind, caring, determined and an amazing role model.  The best things about her are her sense of humour and her hugs. She’s always very understanding and when I’m not feeling happy she can easily make my frown turn upside down - Emma Lord, age 10, a member of the 1st Grange Park Guides
I love that my Mum is helpful and always there for me. She knows exactly what we want and when we need it and will always make time for us even when she’s busy. She’s a really good Mum and there’s no-one else like her in the world!Sophie Waldon, age 9, a member of the 5th Ashford Brownies

Volunteers are the foundations of Girlguiding and mums make up the core of the volunteering community - with thousands across the country running groups with their adult daughters or opening units in new areas so their young daughters can take part.

Take Mum Sheila who runs a Guide unit with daughter Natalie and has recently supported her daughter through a battle with cancer and back into guiding.   

Or take mother and daughter team Emma and Sheila who run a Brownie group together attended by granddaughter Charlotte - a real family affair. 

That's why we're championing these unsung heroes, who are so instrumental in empowering girls and young women to aim high and reach their goals. 

Research for the survey

1,000 women over the age of 18 took part in the poll which was conducted using Gorkana Surveys.  

Charlotte, 9

Charlotte, 9

Sara’s daughter

I was very very excited when I found out Mum was going to open a Brownie group – I was very proud of her.

It’s great because when we’re doing badges she tells me before the other Brownies what we’ll be doing and I get to share all the exciting things we do with her.