New Study Reveals 2008 Election's Impact on Girls

The Girl Scout Research Institute Examines How Perceptions of Gender, Civic Participation and Leadership Shifted After Historic Election Season


January 13, 2009

Girl Scouts of the USA
Michelle Tompkins

Alicia Gay

New York, N.Y. – A new study launched by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) titled "The New Leadership Landscape: What Girls Say about Election 2008" finds that the presidential election, and the intense campaign season that preceded it, generated an unprecedented level of interest and engagement in civic participation and community service among young people ages 13 - 17. The survey also reveals that girls in particular have not only gained an increased awareness of the barriers that face women, but also an improved sense of their own abilities and potential to overcome those obstacles.

The GSRI, building upon its 2007, comprehensive study of girls' leadership conceptions and aspirations, "Change It Up! What Girls Say About Leadership," spearheaded this post-election survey to determine the impact that this historic election had on girls' leadership goals. The survey consisted of online interviews conducted with a sample of 3,284 respondents between the ages of 13 and 17. The data are weighted to produce a final sample representative of the general population of young people in the United States.

"In order to ensure that we continue to provide the best leadership experience for girls and young women, we think it's important to take a close look at those issues and events that inspire girls to want to become leaders in their own communities," said Laurel Richie, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Girl Scouts of the USA. "This historic presidential election, which for the first time featured two female candidates and an African-American, is certainly such an event."

The survey consisted of 3,284 respondents between the ages of 13 and 17. In the effort to capture diverse reactions the sample design included boys and girls; Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts, as well African-American, Hispanic and Asian youth.

Survey Highlights

Leadership and Girls

Race and Gender

Engagement in the Election

"The results of the post-election survey are revealing," remarked Judy Schoenberg, Director of Research and Outreach for GSRI. "It's clear that this election season has encouraged girls to re-examine their ideas about leadership, civic participation and their own ability to influence the world around them as future leaders. While girls are aware that women face challenges, they have also gained confidence and were energized by the 2008 election."

About the Girl Scout Research Institute
Formed in 2000, the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) is a center for research and public policy information on the healthy development of girls. Through conducting groundbreaking research, the main goal of the GSRI is to elevate the voices of girls on key issues that affect their lives – such as their emotional and physical health and safety. The GSRI originates national projects and initiatives, synthesizes existing research and conducts outcomes evaluation to support the development of the Girl Scout program and to provide information to educational institutions, not-for-profits, government agencies, public policy organizations and to parents seeing ways to support their daughters and to girls themselves. The GSRI includes staff and advisors who have expertise in child development and also includes advisors from academia, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations.

About Girl Scouts
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.6 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouting is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The organization strives to serve girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girls Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U (800-478-7248) or visit www.girlscouts.org.