by Laurie Goodman 

We know that when girls succeed, we all succeed.  For the first time in history, we know that a significant amount of our leaders will be women.  This means that girls need the best possible preparation to step into these roles.  Despite the inherent promise that girls represent, they still face real and profound challenges.  For too many, they still face extreme poverty, bias, challenges to their physical and mental health, and suppression of their ideas.  For 66 years (serving 82,000), Girls Inc. has been there for girls as they push past these obstacles, arming them with the support and resources they need to reach their full potential. 

In 2020, the Girls Inc. national organization released a national study, “Stronger, Smarter, and Bolder: Girls Take the Lead”.  This assessment by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), showed that the Girls Inc. experience makes a measurable difference in the lives of girls.  The study surveyed girls, ages 9-18, in the areas of Strong/Healthy Living, Smart/Academic Success, and Bold/Life Skills, Character, and Social and Emotional Development. 

“In a rigorous comparison study, we found that girls how participate in the Girls Inc. Experience demonstrated improved academic performance, school-related behaviors, physical activity, and leadership outcomes.” Dr. Deborah Moroney, Managing Director of the America Institutes for Research 

The Girls Inc. experience is built around four crucial supports: 

  • The Right Relationships 
  • Encouragement to Develop and Use Their Voices 
  • A Positive Self-Image 
  • Intellectual Confidence 

Because of the focus in these areas, Girls Inc. girls outperform their peers in the following areas: 

Academic Record Outcomes: 

  1. Standardized English/Language Arts test scores
  2. Standardized math test scores
  3. School attendance
  4. Suspensions from school 

Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than girls in a control group to attend school and to be engaged in school.  In schools where girls can sometimes face challenges, the Girls Inc. pro-girl, all-girl environment – as well as Girls Inc. mentoring – gives girls a safe space to lead, academically and socially. 

Strong Outcomes 

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Play on a sports team
  3. Happy with my body 

Girls Inc. girls were more likely to abstain from substance abuse – including alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes.  Being able to say not to these pressures is a powerful step toward leadership for girls. 

Smart Outcomes 

  1. Science is fun
  2. Science confidence
  3. Understand science
  4. Enjoy seeing how things are made
  5. Curious about science
  6. Want a science job
  7. Excited about scienc
  8. Enjoy science games
  9. Math is fun
  10. Math confidence
  11. Reading confidence
  12. Postsecondary readiness
  13. School Engagement 

Girls Inc. girls scored higher on standardized math tests than their peers and were more likely than their peers to believe they could handle harder math or science content, to say they were curious about science, computers, or technology or to want to have a computer or science job in the future. 

Bold Outcomes 

  1. Leadership
  2. Positive relationship with adults
  3. Stands up for fairness and beliefs
  4. Civic efficacy 

Girls Inc. helps girls understand they have a voice, identify healthy and unhealthy relationships, and learn about healthy sexuality at an age-appropriate level.  Girls build physical self-defense skills, talk about violence and identify warning signs of potential harm, and develop strategies for improving their personal safety and that of others.   

Pro-girl, all-girl environments, strong mentorship, and proven, research-based programming are the place to start creating these kinds of supports for girls.  Whatever challenges girls face, they are better equipped with Girls Inc. in their corner.