New Research Affirms Lifetime Benefits Of Girls’ Participation in Girl Scouting

According to a new Girl Scout Research Institute report, Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, women who were Girl Scouts as children display significantly more positive life outcomes than non-Girl Scout alumnae.

Approximately one in every two adult women (49%) in the U.S. has at some point been a member of Girl Scouts; the average length of time a girl spends in Girl Scouting is four years. There are currently an estimated 59 million Girl Scout alumnae living in the U.S.

The study, which was not identified to participants as a Girl Scout project, surveyed a sample of 3,550 women aged 18 and older, roughly half of whom were Girl Scout alumnae and half drawn from the general population. The sample was chosen to be representative of the US population in terms of race/ethnicity, household income, education, marital status, and type of residence.

Compared to non-alumnae, Girl Scout alumnae display significantly more positive life outcomes on several indicators of success. These success indicators include:

  • Perceptions of self. Of Girl Scout alumnae, 63% consider themselves competent and capable, compared to 55% of non-alumnae.
  • Volunteerism and community work. Of Girl Scout alumnae who are mothers, 66% have been a mentor/volunteer in their child’s youth organization, compared to 48% of non-alumnae mothers.
  • Civic engagement. Of Girl Scout alumnae, 77% vote regularly, compared to 63% of non-alumnae.
  • Education. Of Girl Scout alumnae, 38% have attained college degrees, compared to 28% of non-alumnae.
  • Income/socioeconomic status. Girl Scout alumnae report a significantly higher household income ($51,700) than non-alumnae ($42,200).

In addition to collecting quantitative data, the researchers conducted a series of live interviews with Girl Scout alumnae. Overall, alumnae say Girl Scouting was positive and rewarding for them. Former Girl Scouts:

  • Rate their Girl Scouting experiences very highly. The average rating among all alumnae on a 1–10 scale is 8.04.
  • Fondly recall their experiences in Girl Scouting. Fun, friendships, and crafts are the most frequently cited positive aspects of Girl Scouting.
  • Say they’ve received concrete benefits from Girl Scouts, such as being exposed to nature and having a safe place to try new things.
  • Actively recognize the influence of Girl Scouting on their lives. Three quarters of alumnae report that the Girl Scout experience has had a positive impact on their lives in general. 

The positive effects of Girl Scouting seem particularly pronounced for women who were Girl Scouts longer, as well as for African American and Hispanic women.

“As Girl Scouts turns 100 years old, and we couldn’t ask for a better birthday present than this,” says Anne Soots, interim chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. “We declared 2012 as the Year of the Girl to help bring attention to girls and the value of encouraging and supporting them. To strengthen that support beyond the boundaries of Girl Scouting, we’ve launched ToGetHerThere, with the goal of reaching gender-balanced leadership in one generation. One kind of support we know girls need is role models—successful older women they can learn from and emulate. There is no group of women better suited to do that than our Girl Scout alumnae. So Girl Scout, phone home. We need you.”

To learn more about Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact study, or to obtain a copy, visit http://www.girlscouts.org/research. To join the Girl Scout Alumnae Association (where you may also obtain a copy of Girl Scouting Works), visit http://alumnae.girlscouts.org. To learn more about ToGetHerThere—and to take the pledge to support girls and girls’ leadership—visit http://togetherthere.org.

Share

New Girl Scouts Research Exposes the Impact of Reality TV on Girls

As reality TV has become staple entertainment for young people and adults alike, tween and teen girls who regularly view reality TV accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance, according to Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV, a national survey released today by the Girl Scout Research Institute.

The study found that the vast majority of girls think reality shows “often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting” (86 percent). When comparing the propensity for relational aggression between viewers and non-viewers of reality TV, 78 percent vs. 54 percent state that “gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls.”

Regarding romantic relationships, reality TV viewers are more likely than non-viewers to say “girls often have to compete for a guy’s attention” (74 percent vs. 63 percent), and are happier when they are dating someone or have a boyfriend/significant other (49 percent vs. 28 percent).

“Girls today are bombarded with media – reality TV and otherwise – that more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration. This perpetuates a ‘mean-girl’ stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls,” states Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. Developmental Psychologist, Girl Scouts of the USA. “We don’t want girls to avoid reality TV, but want them, along with their parents, to know what they are getting into when they watch it. Our national leadership program equips girls with the skills to decipher media fact from fiction and make healthy decisions for their own lives-separate from their sources of entertainment.”

Girls who view reality TV regularly are also more focused on the value of physical appearance. 72 percent say they spend a lot of time on their appearance vs. 42 percent of non-viewers, while more than a third (38 percent) think that a girl’s value is based on how she looks.

At the same time, girls surveyed who regularly view reality TV are more self-assured than non-viewers when it comes to an overwhelming majority of personal characteristics, with the majority considering themselves mature, a good influence, smart, funny, and outgoing. They are more likely than non-viewers to both aspire to leadership (46 percent vs. 27 percent) and to think they are currently seen as a leader (75 percent vs. 63 percent). In addition, they are more likely to see themselves as role models for other girls (75 percent vs. 61 percent).

The study revealed that reality TV has many upsides as well. 68 percent of girls agree that reality shows “make me think I can achieve anything in life” and 48 percent that they “help me realize there are people out there like me.” Seventy-five percent of girls say that reality TV depicts people with different backgrounds and beliefs.

“We also want to emphasize the many positive benefits to reality TV, including its role as a learning and motivational tool,” states Kimberlee Salmond, Senior Researcher, Girl Scout Research Institute. “For example, we know that many girls receive inspiration and comfort from reality TV and that 62 percent of girls say that these types of shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes.”

Since its founding in 2000, the Girl Scout Research Institute has become an internationally recognized center for research and public policy information on the development and well-being of girls. Not just Girl Scouts, but all girls.

(source: Joshua on GSUSA blog)

Share