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A new survey examining young Canadians’ views on leadership says only 10 per cent picture a woman when they think of a chief executive officer.

The online survey, commissioned by the children’s rights group Plan International Canada and conducted by Nanos, polled more than 2,200 Canadians ages 14 to 24 between Sept. 15 and 24.

It found all genders list confidence as the top trait a leader should possess, but only 55 per cent of girls and young women describe themselves as confident, and 81 per cent say they at least occasionally doubt they have what it takes to be a good leader.

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Fifty-three per cent of boys and young men who took part in the survey described girls and women as “emotional,” but only 10 per cent applied that adjective to a good leader.

Even more of them – 57 per cent – chose “strong” as a top descriptor for a good leader, but fewer than a third described girls and women as strong.

Meanwhile, nearly 60 per cent of girls and young women who participated said they sometimes feel pressure to change how they act to attain their leadership goals.

The organization behind the survey says it shows gender-related stereotypes still represent barriers for girls in achieving leadership roles.

“The disconnect between ambition and how girls and young women in Canada perceive their capabilities to lead is complicated – but it begins to make sense when focus is placed on the systemic barriers and the role gender socialization plays in shaping attitudes and perceptions from an early age,” Saadya Hamdani, director of gender equality at Plan International Canada, said in a statement.

“It’s not the potential or capacities of girls that is the problem – it’s the reality of the social and institutional environments they are faced with.”

Polling experts say online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not generate a random sample of the population.

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