Girls Today Want to Be Entrepreneurs but Still See Gender as a Challenge

A new Girl Scout study shows that girls have high entrepreneurial aspirations and know what they want from society to help them reach their potential. 



Girl Scouts of the USA Press Room

New York, NY (November 19, 2019)—Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today released the findings of a new report, Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs, 1 conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute2 (GSRI). The nationwide study surveyed 1,506 girls ages 8−17 to better understand their views on and experiences with entrepreneurship, as well as what they need to succeed. The report is being released on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day to bring attention to the importance of supporting girls’ entrepreneurial ambitions.

Girls Have an Entrepreneurial Mindset and Are Engaged in Entrepreneurial Activities
Six in ten girls already have 90% or more of the qualities that make up an entrepreneurial mindset. Girls overwhelmingly say that they’re confident and enthusiastic about their abilities, with 92% of respondents asserting that they believe they’re smart enough to be an entrepreneur and 89% reporting that they’re actively engaged in entrepreneurial activities, such as creating a new product, coming up with new or imaginative uses for existing products, or developing their own businesses. In terms of demographics, Black and Latina girls are most likely to be interested in being an entrepreneur in the future or starting their own businesses.  Additional study findings are available online.

Additionally, girls want to have careers that will allow them to be the makers and creators of tomorrow—tapping their talent and out-of-the-box thinking for new ideas and approaches to solving problems. Eight in ten say they aren’t afraid to try things that are hard and that failing makes them want to try harder. And when it comes to making a difference, 95% assert that they want to make the world a better place. Girl Scouts’ definition of entrepreneurial mindset merges innovation and strategic risk taking with a focus on social impact and collaboration. It includes a set of skills or qualities, like curiosity and confidence, linked to entrepreneurial success.  Read the full study.

“The Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs study overwhelmingly shows that girls want to be part of the business engine that drives this country and that they believe they have the abilities to do so,” says Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of GSUSA.“Girls are eager to find solutions to today’s complex problems, and in our competitive global economy, their talents are greatly needed. The call to action for us—parents, educators, female entrepreneurs, and the business community at-large—is to provide them with the tools and support they need to reach their full potential.”

"The Girl Scout mission continues to inspire me," says CEO and cofounder of Ellevest (and Girl Scout alum) Sallie Krawcheck. “Girl Scouts supports the entrepreneurial spirit, builds confidence in girls, and sparks the courage to believe in their unique abilities. As a female entrepreneur, it is important to speak and serve as a role model for the next generation of aspiring female business leaders.”

The Challenge: Most Girls Believe Gender Is a Stumbling Block
Although girls want to be entrepreneurs, their belief that society encourages women to take on these roles (e.g., gives them the support and guidance they need) declines as they grow older; 75% of girls ages 8–10 feel encouraged, down to 62% of girls ages 14–17. When asked to weigh the challenges against their perceived odds of success, their top concerns are:

  • Entrepreneurship is an uphill battle—three out of four girls believe women must work harder than men to succeed.
  • They don’t know how to start becoming an entrepreneur.
  • They don’t think entrepreneurship is worth the risk or have a fear of failure.

What Girls Want and Need to Be Entrepreneurs
Girls are clear about what they want from adults to overcome the hurdles to success, including educational opportunities, mentorship, and support:

  • Sixty-four percent of girls want more entrepreneurship courses or programs, compared to 12% who have taken one.
  • Over half want to be mentored by an entrepreneur, compared to 8% who have been.
  • Forty percent want more financial literacy courses or programs, compared to 21% who have taken a class.

The GSRI also compared Girl Scouts to other girls and found that girls who participate in Girl Scouts had an edge over those who didn’t: 79% of Girl Scouts have an entrepreneurial mindset (versus 52% of other girls), and 91% of Girl Scouts are interested in being an entrepreneur (versus 71% of other girls). Girl Scouts are also twice as likely to have already participated in programming that builds entrepreneurial skills, such as financial literacy or the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the world’s largest girl-led entrepreneurship program.

Where Women Stand in the Entrepreneurial Landscape
While there has been some progress in the last decade, women remain underrepresented in leadership roles. Only 5% of CEOs and 12% of other top executives in the S&P 500 are women. And a meager 20% of start-ups are founded by women, who are less likely to receive capital investment or to pursue entrepreneurship than men. Yet studies show that female-founded start-ups generate more revenue over time and more revenue per dollar invested than male-founded start-ups.3 Investing in girls’ socially conscious entrepreneurial contributions can benefit U.S. business practices, the bottom line, and the future of business leadership.

1 The GSRI partnered with Decision Analyst, LLC to conduct quantitative research with 1,506 girls ages 8–17 across the United States (31% ages 8–10, 41% ages 11–13, and 28% ages 14–17). These national samples aligned with U.S. Census data for youth ages 8–17 with respect to race/ethnicity, urbanicity, geographical region, and household income. Additionally, 24% of the sample were Girl Scouts.  

2 The GSRI delivers customer-centric, data-driven insight across the Girl Scout Movement and beyond, leading national conversations about girls and their development via groundbreaking original studies.

3 See the full study for all statistical sources.

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We're 2.5 million strong—more than 1.7 million girls and 750,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) to change the world. Our extraordinary journey began more than 100 years ago with the original G.I.R.L., Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, she organized the very first Girl Scout troop, and every year since, we’ve honored her vision and legacy, building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We’re the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. And with programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit


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