The 'Election Effect' - Girl Scout Study Shows Impact of Election On Girls
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The Girl Scout Research Institute Examines How Perceptions of Gender, Civic Participation and Leadership Shifted After Historic Election Season NEW YORK, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 Redefining 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 -- The majority of girls (59 percent) say the election has increased their confidence in being able to achieve their goals in the future. -- Many girls (55 percent) say the election has increased their comfort level in speaking up and expressing their opinions on issues that matter to them. -- Many girls (51 percent) say the election has boosted their confidence in their ability to change things in the country. -- Girl Scouts are more likely than other girls to think they have a high chance of becoming President (55 percent of Girl Scouts versus 35 percent of non-Girl Scouts). Race and Gender -- When questioned about the role of gender, both boys and girls have substantially increased their appreciation for the difficulties that women face in our society. 43 percent of girls today strongly believe that "girls have to work harder than boys in order to gain positions of leadership," a statement that just 25 percent of girls agreed with just a year ago. -- The percentage of girls who believe that "in our society, it is more difficult to become a leader for a woman than a man," has increased from 23 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2008. -- The percentage of girls who believe that "today both men and women have an equal chance of getting a leadership position" has declined from 35 percent to 24 percent between 2007 and 2008. -- Strikingly, despite becoming more aware of obstacles women face, more than four in 10 girls (41 percent) say that the election has had a positive impact on their desire to be a leader. -- While one in three young people believe that Obama was held to a higher standard because of his race, 48 percent believe that ultimately race helped him in the elections. Engagement in the Election -- The most significant impact the election has had is on youth's desire to engage in the political process: the overwhelming majority (71 percent) intend to vote when they reach eligible age. Additionally, about one in two (49 percent) report an increased interest in politics; and 44 percent gained an interest in social and political activism. The election has had a particularly strong impact on girls and non-whites (especially African-Americans) in terms of increased interest in political activism. -- President-elect Obama would have won the 13-17-year-old vote with a wider margin than he did the national election: 60 percent of the survey respondents said they would have voted for President-elect Obama while just 26 percent said they would have voted for Senator John McCain (compared to the 53 percent/ 46 percent split in the national election. Two-thirds of respondents also believe President Obama will bring positive change to the country. "The results of the post-election survey are revealing," remarked Judy Schoenberg, Director of Research & 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. GIRLS INSPIRED BY THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION According to a new survey of 3,284 youth (2,309 girls, 975 boys) ages 13-17: -- Most girls (59%) say the election has increased their confidence in being able to achieve their goals in the future. -- Most girls (55%) say the election has increased their comfort level in speaking up and expressing their opinions on issues that matter to them. -- Most girls (51%) say the election has boosted their confidence in their ability to change things in the country. -- Half of girls (50%) report increased interest in politics as a result of the election. -- More than four in 10 girls (46%) think more highly of women's ability to lead than they did before the election. -- More than four in 10 girls (46%) report increased interest in social and political activism as a result of the election. -- More than four in 10 girls (44%) report increased interest in community service or volunteer activity as a result of the election. -- More than four in 10 girls (41%) say that the election has had a positive impact on their desire to be a leader. -- Nearly two in three girls (65%) expect President-elect Obama to bring positive change to the country. -- Girl Scouts are more likely than other girls to think they have a high chance of becoming President (55% of Girl Scouts versus 35% of non-Girl Scouts). The survey was commissioned by the Girl Scout Research Institute and conducted from Nov. 11 - Dec. 2, 2008 by the market research firm Fluent. The survey consisted of online interviews with 3,284 young people between the ages of 13 and 17, and steps were taken to ensure that those surveyed were representative of the general population of young people in the United States. SOURCE Girl Scouts of the USA Michelle Tompkins of Girl Scouts of the USA, +1-212-852-5074, email@example.com; or Alicia Gay of CRT/tanaka, +1-212-229-0500, firstname.lastname@example.org