Go Ask a Girl:
A Decade of Findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute
the past ten years, the Girl Scout Research Institute has conducted and
disseminated research to a variety of audiences on critical issues
faced by girls and young women. The goal of the GSRI is to raise
awareness and inform public policy by amplifying the voices of girls on
issues that are important to them and for them. Listening to girls’
voices is consistent with the larger vision of encouraging girl
leadership held by the Girl Scouts of the USA.
In honor of a decade of research, the GSRI published Go Ask a Girl: A Decade of Findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute
(2010), highlighting key findings from past research reports. A total
of 22 research reports have been produced in the last 10 years, on
topics including healthy living, civic engagement, leadership and
values, safety, self-esteem, body image, and engagement in science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Go Ask a Girl summarizes
and points out interesting facts about girls’ attitudes, thoughts, and
behaviors through changing times. For example, did you know that one in
four girls are dissatisfied with their bodies (The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living, 2006)? Or that 84% intend to vote (Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today,
2009)? Did you know that girls in 2009 said they would engage in fewer
risky behaviors than said girls in 1989, including drinking, smoking,
drug use, and premarital sex (Good Intentions, 2009)?
Go Ask a Girl
has been well-received by the Girl Scouts community. We hope that
findings summarized in this publication will continue to inform
program, advocacy, and policy efforts for girls within and beyond Girl
To order this publication, visit http://www.girlscouts.org/research/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten-Year GSRI Event/Celebration
decade of research was commemorated on the evening of November 4, 2010
with a special event entitled “Who’s that Girl? Self-Image in the 21st
Century” held at the Bryant Park Hotel in Manhattan. This event marked
the release of the most recent research findings on girls and social
media conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, and included a
panel of adult and girl experts who discussed critical issues faced by
girls and young women today. Adult panelists included Emme, supermodel
and founder of The Body Image Council; Maya Enista, CEO of
mobilize.org; Gabi Gregg, MTV Twitter Jockey; Peggy Orenstein, New York Times Magazine
journalist; Janie Victoria Ward, Ph.D., professor of education at
Simmons College; and Kimberlee Salmond, senior researcher at the Girl
Scout Research Institute.
the issues and topics discussed at length during this expert panel
session was the need for more adult female role models, problems with
self-esteem being tied closely to body image, the importance of
protecting against relational aggression and bullying, and the
importance of monitoring teen girls’ social networking behavior. The
event was a huge success, with close to 100 attendees including experts
in the youth development community and media personnel, and generated a
wide range of press coverage, including stories on WebMD, LiveScience,
Jezebel, and Feministing, among many others.
Who's that Girl?
Image and Social Media Survey
networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter have infiltrated the
lives of teen girls. Teens spend several hours a day posting photos and
videos, status updates, and chatting with their friends. The most
recent GSRI research study, Who’s that Girl? Image and Social Media
(2010), investigated the positive and negative impacts of social
networking among 1,026 girls ages 14–17, and found that while teen
girls are physically and emotionally engaged in social networking,
nearly all (92%) still prefer face-to-face communication.
girls present themselves in a different light on social networking
sites, tending to portray themselves as fun (54%), funny (52%), and
social (48%), while underplaying in-person positive characteristics
such as intelligence (82% in person) and kindness (76% in person). This
difference is more pronounced among girls with low self-esteem.
the majority of teen girls (68%) report that they have had a negative
experience on a social networking site, such as being gossiped about
(41%), having had personal information revealed to others (28%), or
being bullied (20%). Actually, 55% of teen girls admit to having been
the root of negative behavior on social networking sites. Girls with
low self-esteem are more likely to have negative experiences on these
girls have good intentions about safe social networking, but fewer act
on these intentions. Although 85% of teen girls report that they have
had conversations with parents about safe social networking, more than
half (54%) are friends with people they’ve never met, and many offer
personal information such as their school name (75%) and contact
information (38%) on their profiles.
news is not all bad; the majority of teen girls (56%) report that they
have experienced closer and “more social” relationships due to social
networking. In addition, more than half (52%) of teen girls surveyed
have become involved in a cause they care about through social
networking and many (41%) have stood up for another person being
threatened, harassed, or bullied on a social network. Further, about
half of teen girls (48%) feel that social networking fosters more
from this study show that teen girls need to better understand social
networking privacy controls and could benefit from more and better
communication with family members on safe social networking. Parents
should be involved in their teens’ social networking and teen girls
shouldn’t feel pressured to act differently or hide their positive
attributes on these sites. Having more friends and looking cool through
provocative photos could backfire, since gossiping and bullying are
rampant on social networking sites.
Check out what prominent sites are saying about this study:
Ms. Magazine Blog
Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan
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The Girl Scout Research Institute, formed in 2000, is a vital extension of Girl Scouts of the USA.
GSRI conducts original research, evaluation, and outcomes measurement
studies, releases critical facts and findings, and provides resources
essential for the advancement of the well-being and safety of girls
living in today’s world.
The GSRI also informs public policy and advocacy for Girl Scouting.
Did you know that the GSRI celebrated its 10th anniversary on September
13, 2010? We’d like you to help celebrate the good news by forwarding
this email to your friends and colleagues who might be interested in
subscribing (and they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their
friends…). Please have them click here to subscribe.
Girl Scout Research Institute
Public Policy and Advocacy
Washington, D.C., Office
Girl Scouts of the USA
The rise in Internet/Social Media use by teens
use of the Internet has risen from 75% in 2000 to 93% in 2009. Nearly
three quarters (73%) of online teens use social networking sites. (Pew
Internet & American Life Project: Social Media and Young Adults,
girls have an average of 351 social networking friends and have posted
an average of 189 photos. Half of teen girls surveyed say they would
feel a major sense of loss if social networking sites went away. (GSRI,
Who’s that Girl?: Images and Social Media, 2010)
More benefits of social media
recent study out of Lock Haven University found that college students
who were asked to incorporate social media (Twitter) into their
homework assignments reported more engagement and a higher GPA than a
- The Prevention Researcher covered
social media in its most recent publication (December 2010). Additional
benefits of social media were summarized, including accessibility of
academic support and homework help through a number of interactive Web
sites for teens, and accessibility of community forums for teens to
anonymously share personal issues and learn information.
More concerns about
Prevention Researcher (December 2010) summarized some additional risks
of social media, including misinformation on community Web sites
designed to help educate and offer advice to teens about personal
Habbo Hotel Global Online Safety Survey asked 61,000 respondents across
33 countries about Internet use, finding that 24% of children under
eight are using the Internet without supervision, about one-third of
teens have regretted sharing personal information online, and online
bullying is witnessed regularly by almost a quarter of teens.
If colleagues and friends would like to sign up, please forward this e-mail to them. To subscribe, click here.
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