Monday, September 12, 2011

The Resilience Factor: A Key to Leadership in African American and Hispanic Girls

Today, Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Designate, Anna Maria Chavez, addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and released key findings about Hispanic girls by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI). In “The Resilience Factor: A Key to Leadership in African American and Hispanic Girls,” Girl Scouts found that African American and Hispanic girls aspired to leadership more than Caucasian girls and had more frequent and more positive leadership experiences.

“For 100 years, Girl Scouting has built girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place,” said Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Designate Anna Maria Chavez. “With five million Latinas age 5 to 17 in the US, Latinas are the fastest-growing demographic group. This research will help Girl Scout indentify the best way to serve all girls in the Latina community. ”

According to GSRI, African American and Hispanic girls not only aspire to leadership more than Caucasian girls and have more frequent and more positive leadership experiences, but also rate themselves higher than Caucasian girls on key leadership indicators such as overall self-confidence. They also appreciated qualities such as creativity, caring, and problem solving.

Interestingly, many of the social and cultural challenges facing African American and Hispanic girls – racism, inequity, and injustice – are the very factors that increase their resilience and capacity for leadership. Many Hispanic and African American girls overcome difficulties and excel. Girl Scouts’ research identified three main factors that affect Latina girls’ resilience - the girl herself, her family, and the community that provides her support.

Understanding that not all African American and Hispanic girls are resilient, the GSRI research further explores the family, school, community, and cultural protective factors that help develop girls who are considered resilient in the face of stressors, assisting youth-serving organizations in engaging African American and Hispanic girls and young women in leadership development.