As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we’re reminded that recognizing the contributions of women and girls should not be limited to one month out of the year. Speaking of these contributions, in American life, there is an experience known to play a part in the overall success of women: Girl Scouting. According to the newly released 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 do non-Girl Scout alumnae, outcomes that include perceptions of self, volunteerism and community work, civic engagement, education, income, and socioeconomic status.
Approximately one in every two adult women (49%) in the U.S. has at some point been a member of Girl Scouts, with the average length of time spent in Girl Scouts four years. There are currently an estimated 59 million Girl Scout alumnae living in the U.S.
Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, which was not identified to participants as a Girl Scout project, surveyed a sample of 3,550 women age 18 and older, roughly half of whom are Girl Scout alumnae and half drawn from the general population. The sample was chosen to be representative of the U.S. population in terms of race/ethnicity, household income, education, marital status, and type of residence.
Among study findings, of Girl Scout alumnae who are mothers, 66 percent have been a mentor/volunteer in their child's youth organization, compared to 48 percent of non-alumnae mothers. Seventy-seven percent of Girl Scout alumnae vote regularly, compared to 63 percent of non-alumnae. Time spent in Girl Scouts also pays off, as longer-term alumnae display a stronger sense of self: 71 percent consider themselves capable and competent, compared to 55 percent of shorter-term alumnae. In addition, 62 percent of longer-term Girl Scout alumnae think of themselves as leaders while 52% of short term alumnae think of themselves as leaders.
In its 100th anniversary year, Girl Scouts of the USA has affirmed its unwavering commitment to girls’ leadership with the launch of ToGetHer There, the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause dedicated to girls’ leadership in the nation’s history. The multi-year effort will seek to create balanced leadership—the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society—within one generation.
“We can’t transform American leadership in a year, but we can transform expectations in a year,” says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “We can transform awareness in a year. We can set in motion a generational change and make certain that a baby girl born in 2012 will experience her life in a new and vastly different world. Only Girl Scouts, with its scale and time-honored place in society, can launch this initiative. If not us, who? If not now, when? When girls succeed, so does society. We know that together, we can get her there.”
Girl Scouts of the USA is uniquely qualified to help millions of highly qualified young women launch and sustain careers, overcome barriers that confront them, and enter the ranks of senior leadership and thrive there. Our goal is for Girl Scouts to be the catalyst for the gender-balanced leadership that this country needs.