New evaluation from American Institutes for Research found Girls Inc. girls more likely to see themselves as leaders, influencing and improving their local communities.
Girls Inc., the leading nonprofit that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, has released Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead, a report of studied insights into what is needed to ensure girls are prepared to succeed in leadership roles in business, politics, and in their communities. The report presents both a wide-ranging analysis of the latest research on the primary factors shaping girls’ lives today, and recommendations for the most crucial supports communities should focus on for girls. In a new study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), girls who receive the supports offered by Girls Inc. have a significant advantage over their peers who do not.
While there are more women today in key leadership positions than ever before, there still exists a pervasive gender gap in top leadership. Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead outlines four fundamental supports that Girls Inc. has determined are universally beneficial to girls and create the conditions for girls to overcome systemic societal challenges and become strong leaders:
- Providing mentoring relationships;
- Encouraging girls to develop and use their voices;
- Promoting positive self-image; and
- Fostering intellectual confidence.
These supports help girls navigate and overcome the multifaceted, interconnected, and persistent barriers they face. The report highlights some of the most recent and significant research on girls, pointing to trends in 11 key factors that shape their lives. The report presents a comprehensive, holistic view of the landscape in which girls in both the U.S. and Canada are growing up. The following factors are examined: physical activity, mental health, substance use, teen pregnancy, educational achievement, STEM experiences, graduation rates, juvenile justice, healthy relationships – encompassing harassment, sexual abuse – and leadership opportunities.
“The research shows us that Girls Inc. is making progress on some of the toughest issues girls face—but all of us working in this field still have room to improve, especially in our work with girls of color, LGBTQ+ girls, and low-income girls. All girls deserve equity of access to wellbeing and opportunity, and we have to see the whole girl, in her context and community. That’s what Girls Inc. has always done, and we believe that’s a key to the success we’ve achieved,” said Stephanie J. Hull, PhD, President & CEO of the Girls Inc. National organization.
Recently the AIR completed a rigorous two-year comparison study designed to isolate and identify the impact of the Girls Inc. on girls’ lives. The evaluation was a quasi-experimental research study that compared girls in Girls Inc. with a similar group of non-participating girls on subjective self-report measures from girls on their experiences, skills, and attitudes, and objective measures from schools on academic and school-based performance. Researchers determined with confidence that regardless of demographic, academic, and social characteristics girls who participate in Girls Inc. were outpacing their peers in multiple areas of success and were more likely to:
- See themselves as leaders, with the skills and capabilities to influence and improve their local communities;
- Exercise regularly and participate in sports teams;
- Have higher standardized math test scores and self-confidence in STEM subjects, and see themselves in STEM careers; and
- Be engaged in and attend school, less likely to be suspended, and be prepared for life after high school.
“We are excited to have the results from the two-year AIR evaluation to back up what we know each day through working with girls in our community: that when they participate in Girls Inc.’s programs they have a significant advantage over girls who do not participate in Girls Inc. The work we are doing with today’s girls is helping to fill society’s current and future needs for more women ready and prepared to take the lead across multiple sectors,” said Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara CEO Barbara Ben-Horin.
More information is available from Girls Inc. National.
The American Institutes for Research is a nonprofit research organization with best-in-class experts focused on social science research and evaluation, and technical assistance.
The research shows us that Girls Inc. is making progress on some of the toughest issues girls face—but all of us working in this field still have room to improve, especially in our work with girls of color, LBGTQ+ girls, and low-income girls.