Anna Maria Chávez, Girl
Scouts: New Research Affirms Lifetime Benefits of Girls' Participation
in Girl Scouting
May 31, 2012
According to a new
Girl Scout Research Institute report, Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae
Impact Study, women who were Girl Scouts as children display
significantly more positive life outcomes than non-Girl Scout alumnae.
Approximately one in every two adult women (49%) in the U.S. has at some
point been a member of Girl Scouts; the average length of time a girl
spends in Girl Scouting is four years. There are currently an estimated
59 million Girl Scout alumnae living in the U.S.
The study, which was not identified to participants as a Girl Scout
project, surveyed a sample of 3,550 women aged 18 and older, roughly
half of whom were Girl Scout alumnae and half drawn from the general
population. The sample was chosen to be representative of the US
population in terms of race/ethnicity, household income, education,
marital status, and type of residence.
Compared to non-alumnae, Girl Scout alumnae display significantly more
positive life outcomes on several indicators of success. These success
Perceptions of self. Of
Girl Scout alumnae, 63% consider themselves competent and capable,
compared to 55% of non-alumnae.
Volunteerism and community
work. Of Girl Scout alumnae who are mothers, 66% have been a
mentor/volunteer in their child's youth organization, compared to 48% of
Civic engagement. Of
Girl Scout alumnae, 77% vote regularly, compared to 63% of non-alumnae.
Education. Of Girl Scout
alumnae, 38% have attained college degrees, compared to 28% of
Girl Scout alumnae report a significantly higher household income
($51,700) than non-alumnae ($42,200).
In addition to collecting
quantitative data, the researchers conducted a series of live interviews
with Girl Scout alumnae. Overall, alumnae say Girl Scouting was positive
and rewarding for them. Former Girl Scouts:
Rate their Girl Scouting
experiences very highly. The average rating among all alumnae on a
1–10 scale is 8.04.
Fondly recall their
experiences in Girl Scouting. Fun, friendships, and crafts are the
most frequently cited positive aspects of Girl Scouting.
Say they've received concrete
benefits from Girl Scouts, such as being exposed to nature and
having a safe place to try new things.
Actively recognize the
influence of Girl Scouting on their lives. Three quarters of alumnae
report that the Girl Scout experience has had a positive impact on
their lives in general.
positive effects of Girl Scouting seem particularly pronounced for women
who were Girl Scouts longer, as well as for African American and
"Girl Scouts turns 100 this year, and we couldn't ask for a better
birthday present than this kind of validation," says Anna Maria Chávez,
chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of the USA. "We declared 2012 as
the Year of the Girl to help bring attention to girls and the value of
encouraging and supporting them. To strengthen that support beyond the
boundaries of Girl Scouting, we've launched ToGetHerThere, with the goal
of reaching gender-balanced leadership in one generation.
"One kind of support we know girls need is role models—successful older
women they can learn from and emulate. There is no group of women better
suited to do that than our Girl Scout alumnae. We're asking them to join
our alumnae association and let us know if they'd be willing to visit
schools and talk to girls who want to be leaders and may not be sure how
to go about it. So Girl Scout, phone home. We need you."