Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Girl Scout Poll Affirms Girls' Interest in Public Service, Illustrates Immense Barriers

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today released findings from a new ”pulse poll” showing that while the majority of today’s teen and tween girls are interested in politics (67 percent), and most are engaged in political, civic or leadership activities (93 percent), only a minority (37 percent) are interested in pursuing a career in politics. The pulse poll was conducted in September by the Girl Scout Research Institute with a national sample of more than 1,000 girls in the U.S. between the ages of 11 and 17, with demographics matched to the U.S. Census distribution of girls in this age range.

Girl Scouts with Hampton Mayor George Wallace to receive a
Girl Scout Week Proclamation in March 2014.
The discrepancy between girls’ desire to engage in the political world and their actual involvement in it is troubling. While, according to the poll, 78 percent of girls want to make a difference in the world and 76 percent want to help people, 92 percent of those girls believe there are other ways than politics to make a difference in the world—and 61 percent would rather be a movie star than president of the United States.

Interestingly, the fact that girls by and large don’t want to enter politics does not point to a lack of faith in their own abilities. Eighty-four percent of girls say “I am smart enough to have a career in politics.” What they are calling for is more support and encouragement from society, the media and adults, to pursue a career in politics. Sixty-five percent of girls feel more mentoring from current politicians and positive stories in the press would encourage them to pursue political careers.

"This new research shows real promise when it comes to girls’ political aspirations—but we need to give girls more support and opportunities to experience and get excited about politics,” says Senior Researcher Kamla Modi, Ph.D., of the Girl Scout Research Institute.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, which serves girls in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, is committed to offering girls opportunities to learn about government and be engaged in advocacy work. Last month, a group of seven Girl Scouts from Hampton Roads met with Senator Tim Kaine to inform him about Girl Scout initiatives in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and share the ways STEM opportunities through Girl Scouts have impacted their career aspirations.

Girl Scouts and GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller with Senator Tim Kaine in September 2014.

Read the full results of the pulse poll here.