Largest Study of its Kind Says Even Girls with a Perfect GPA Don’t Think They Are Smart Enough, and Half of Girls Don’t Speak their Mind for Fear of Being Disliked

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Groundbreaking Survey of 10,000+ U.S. Girls Unveils Surprising Data on Self-Esteem, the Role of Technology and Girls’ Aspirations for the Future

Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc. (ROX) announced findings from a first-of-its-kind study, The Girls’ Index: New Insights into the Complex World of Today’s Girls, which surveyed 10,678 girls across the nation about key issues from social media and technology, to relationships and academics. This new report by the Columbus, Ohio-headquartered nonprofit organization provides a comprehensive portrait for parents and educators of the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors of girls across the country.

The in-depth survey captures insights on fifth through 12th grade girls’ perceptions and experiences around fitting in, body image, peer pressure, academics, friendships and relationships. Research findings include:

  • Most girls like to be in charge, but self-doubt can impact pursuit of leadership opportunities as 46 percent of girls report they don’t say what they are thinking or disagree with others because they want to be liked and one in three girls are afraid to be a leader as they don’t want others to think they are bossy.
  • High academic achievement does not fend off confidence challenges as 30 percent of girls with the highest reported grade point averages (4.0 or above) do not think they are smart enough for their dream careers.
  • Technology and social media impact girls’ relationships, achievement, confidence, mood and school engagement. Overall when asked about technology usage, girls who spend the most time using technology (8+ hrs./day) are 5x more likely to be sad or depressed nearly every day compared to the girls who spend four or fewer hours.
  • By high school, sexting is common and prevalent with two out of every three girls reporting that by 12th grade they have been asked to send a sexually explicit photo to another person.
  • Girls who have strong and trusting friendships with other girls fare better and report significantly lower levels of sadness and depression.

Since girls who have strong and trusting friendships fare better, it is crucial that girls receive the opportunities and tools they need to forge the positive friendships that safeguard their emotions and experiences. Through evidence-based programming, ROX provides girls with opportunities to talk candidly and openly about their experiences, while arming them with tools to positively and safely use social media, navigate relationships and manage pressure to ultimately develop a positive self-concept.

While much research exists on the economic status, health trends, safety and crime victimization and risk behavior of teens, little data exists that delves deeper into the lived experiences of today’s girls. This study gave girls the platform to share their thoughts and opinions on a variety of issues currently impacting their lives.

“The bottom line is that we’re missing out on at least half of what girls think, know and believe,” shares Lisa Hinkelman, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of ROX. “When I look at our findings, I think about the creativity, contributions and impact that we are losing. Now that we know, we have an obligation to do better and a responsibility to make the world a place where girls can feel confident and capable.”

The issues that impact girls during their early years can affect subsequent stages of their development, decisions, relationships and aspirations. The robust data from the nearly 11,000 girls surveyed through The Girls’ Index: New Insights into the Complex World of Today’s Girls provides the knowledge and data required to provide effective education, programming and resources to diverse girls across the country.