Key Findings in Girl Scout Research Institute Leadership Study
Girls Aspire to a Different Kind of Leadership
Girls are turned off by command-and-control style of leadership. When asked about their aspirations to leadership:
· 52% of girls says it’s not that important to them
· 9% do not want to be leaders
Their preferred definitions of leadership are those that imply ethical character or social change values.
· 68% of girls said they would want to be the type of leader who “stands up for their beliefs and values.”
· 59% said they would want to be like someone “who tries to change the world for the better.”
The current conception of leadership is too limiting for girls. They are redefining the leadership in terms of purpose and the greater good.
Girls and Boys are Different
Although boys and girls share similar motivations for wanting to be leaders, girls were more driven by altruistic motives than boys and boys were more influenced than girls by power and money.
· Girls are more likely than boys to want to be leaders because they want to help other people (67% vs. 53%),
· Share knowledge and skills with others (53% vs. 47%)
· Change the world for the better (45% vs. 31%)
· Boys are more likely to want to be their own boss (38% vs. 33%)
· Make more money (33% vs. 26%)
· Have more power (22% vs. 14%)
SIDE NOTE: Differences between boys and girls are pronounced in relation to social or altruistic goals, such as helping others, helping animals and the environment, making the world a better place, and being nice to others. While girls and boys at the youngest ages rank these goals similarly, their importance for boys drops off dramatically as they get older.
Girls and boys have many similarities when it comes to leadership, but there are differences and the data bear that out.
Gender and Leadership
Boys and girls agree that it is more difficult for a woman to become a leader.
· 82% of boys and girls agree that girls and boys are equally good at being leaders.
· 56% of respondents agree that “in our society, it is more difficult to become a leader for a woman than a man"
· 52% agree that “girls have to work harder than boys in order to gain positions of leadership,” although this perception was more widely held by girls (57%) than boys (44%)
It appears that boys and girls understand that girls and women have a harder road to walk when it comes to being a leader. Girls are in some ways harder on themselves.
Race & Ethnicity
The desire to be a leader is significantly higher among Asian-American, African-American and Hispanic girls.
Aspire to be Leaders
· Asian-American girls highest proportion of girls who want to be leaders
· 53% African-American girls
· 50% Hispanic girls
· 34% Caucasian
Consider Themselves Leaders
· 75% African-American girls
· 72% Hispanic girls
· 66% Asian-American girls
· 56% Caucasians
Racial and ethnic minorities both aspire to leadership and consider themselves leaders in the highest proportions. There is likely many reasons for this. The study indicates that they may be more comfortable with some of the traditional barriers to leadership, such as public speaking, etc.
Factors that Most Strongly Influence Girls’ Desire to Pursue Leadership
· Greatest single barrier to leadership reported by girls is self-perception—a lack of self-confidence in one’s own skills and abilities.
· One-third of girls who do not want to leaders explain their lack of motivation by fears of being laughed at, making people mad at them, coming across as bossy, and not being liked by people.
· For girls, leadership is highly idealized, setting the bar high for what it takes to be a leader.
· Peers, who can play both positive and negative roles
· Family, particularly mothers
· Participation in organized and informal activities
· Exposure to leadership opportunities