Did you know that the Girl Scouts have their own Research Institute? While it sounds like they might conduct experiments on girl test subjects, it is actually an amazing resource of information for leaders, parents and girls. They do their own national studies, and also use information from other sources to synthesize findings about anything related to the healthy development of girls.

All the publications are available for free as PDF downloads, or you can sometimes order printed copies from the GSUSA store. This has been a valuable resource when I am creating a presentation about Girl Scouts or needing information for grant applications. The latest paper is Running for a Change: Girls and Politics Pulse Poll.  This paper polled girls about their ambitions, interests and ideas regarding the differences for men and women in politics.  Looking at any other GSI research paper, you’ll find that girls absolutely think that they can lead, have the skills and ability to lead, are good negotiators, and have the confidence to express their own opinions.  Sadly, when asked if they “would have to work harder than a man to be successful in politics”, 74% of the girls agreed.  When asked if they are smart enough to have a career in politics, 84% said “yes” (way to go girls!), but only 32% said that society encourages girls to consider a career in politics.  Don’t you sometimes look at the politicians and think “who would put themselves through that just to be in office?”.  The truth is that we NEED women in politics. We need our voice to be represented, we need the female negotiation skills and we need to encourage our girls to consider this very noble career choice.

womeninpoliticsI just finished watching an episode of Makers on PBS that was all about women in politics.  It was eye opening to hear about the women who have paved the way for a new generation of female leaders in government.  The challenges that they faced were enormous, the bias and sexism was appalling, but through all of this we see how women are willing to negotiate, put aside the posturing and get the job done.  It was inspiring to hear that it was the women of the Senate that were instrumental in bringing an end to the Government Shutdown in 2013 when a group of bipartisan women came together and lead the discussions to compromise that reopened the government.   We raise our boys to be strong, hold firm, and “stick to their guns”, so it is no surprise when the women are the ones willing to get real and begin the negotiations.

Women have a valuable voice and we need to encourage our girls to consider their role as part of the decision making engine that runs our country.  Our girls are now growing up in a world where they know they can do anything.  A few years ago, while doing the AMUSE journey, we put out a list of career choices at a troop meeting and asked the girls to define which ones are for boys and which ones are for girls.  I was so pleasantly surprised when the girls listed astronaut, firefighter, police officer, construction worker, business owner, etc. under the “both” category.  They no longer see gender bias on the career that they can choose, so we have come a long way in just one generation.  Let’s keep them on this path and encourage them to pursue careers where they really can “change the world”.

For a full list of publications available from the Girl Scout Research Institute, visit the GSUSA web page here.