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 indicators include:
- 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 non-alumnae mothers.
- 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 non-alumnae.
- Income/socioeconomic status. 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.
The positive effects of Girl Scouting seem particularly pronounced for women who were Girl Scouts longer, as well as for African American and Hispanic women.
“As Girl Scouts turns 100 years old, and we couldn’t ask for a better birthday present than this,” says Anne Soots, interim chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. “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. So Girl Scout, phone home. We need you.”
To learn more about Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact study, or to obtain a copy, visit http://www.girlscouts.org/research. To join the Girl Scout Alumnae Association (where you may also obtain a copy of Girl Scouting Works), visit http://alumnae.girlscouts.org. To learn more about ToGetHerThere—and to take the pledge to support girls and girls’ leadership—visit http://togetherthere.org.