This January, the Girls Inc. national organization released Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead, a report from the American Institutes for Research on what is needed to ensure girls are prepared to succeed in leadership roles in business, politics, and their communities. The study found that 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 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.
The evaluation was a two-year research study that compared girls in a group of Girls Inc. affiliates across the U.S. with a similar group of non-participating girls. Researchers determined that regardless of demographic, academic, and social characteristics, girls who participated 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.
- Be engaged in and attend school, avoid serious disciplinary action including being suspended, and be prepared for life after high school.
For girls of color in under-resourced communities, barriers to success are higher. Nationally, 28% of Black girls do not have access to chemistry or calculus classes in high school. And while 75% of Black girls and 72% of Latina girls see themselves as leaders, leadership traits like assertiveness place them at disproportionate risk for school discipline. Research shows that Black girls are more likely to be punished for challenging stereotypical feminine behavior.
Girls Inc. of Alameda County is committed to changing these statistics and developing the future leaders our communities need. In 2019, 100% of high school seniors in our College Access Now (CAN!) program went to college, and 98% reported Girls Inc. of Alameda county allowed them to grow their personal leadership skills.
“This research bears out what we see at Girls Inc. of Alameda County every day. When girls participate in our programs – at any grade level – we see their confidence increase and academic engagement accelerate as they develop leadership skills and interests. We’re proud to support them as they grow into the leaders of tomorrow.” – Julayne Virgil, CEO, Girls Inc. of Alameda County.