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Girls Inc. Releases Report on Nurturing Next Generation of Women Leaders

NEW YORK, N.Y. —  Girls Inc., a nonprofit that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, 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 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, girls who receive the supports offered by Girls Inc. have a significant advantage over their peers who do not.

While more women are in key leadership positions today 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 we, and all of us working in this field, still have a ways to go, especially for girls of color, LBGTQ+ girls, and low-income girls,” said Stephanie Hull, president and CEO of Girls Inc. “They need equity of access to well-being and opportunity, and we have to see the whole girl in her context and community. That’s what Girls Inc. has always done. We think that’s a key to the success we’ve achieved.”

Recently, the American Institutes for Research completed a rigorous comparison study designed to isolate and identify the impact of Girls Inc. on girls’ lives. The evaluation was a two-year, 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 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; and be engaged in and attend school, be less likely to be suspended, and be prepared for life after high school.

“Our study found that girls who participate in the Girls Inc. experience demonstrated improved academic performance, school-related behaviors, physical activity, and leadership outcomes,” said Deborah Moroney, managing director of American Institutes for Research, a not-for-profit research organization focused on social-science research, evaluation, and technical assistance.

“For those of us that work and volunteer at Girls Inc., we see girls grow and thrive every day,” said Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Valley. “For a nonprofit, though, that’s not enough. This third-party evaluation demonstrates the positive impact that Girls Inc. makes in the lives of girls, and demonstrates to the community that the investment is worthwhile.”

Parker added that the study will also show areas in which Girls Inc. can continue to grow and strengthen. “To be a part of an organization like Girls Inc. that has demonstrated the commitment to showing its impact feels pretty darn good.”

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