Press Release

Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead

Contact: Tara Criscuolo
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Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead 

Girls Inc. Releases Trend Analysis of Major Factors Impacting Girls and Guidance on Nurturing the Next Generation of Women Leaders

New evaluation from American Institutes for Research found Girls Inc. girls more likely to see themselves as leaders, influencing and improving their local communities.

[Portland,OR] (January 7, 2020)Girls Inc., the leading nonprofit that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, today released Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead, a report of studied insights into what is needed to ensure girls are prepared to succeed in leadership roles in business, politics, and their communities. Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead presents both a wide-ranging analysis of the latest research on the primary factors shaping girls’ lives today, and recommendations for the most crucial supports communities should focus on for girls. These supports, when delivered and fostered in tandem, provide life-changing experiences. In a new study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), girls who receive the supports offered by Girls Inc. have a significant advantage over their peers who do not.

Now serving almost 1,500 girls throughout Oregon and Washington, Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest is delivering nationally-recognized results to girls at the local level. Elizabeth Nye, who has been the Executive Director at Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest for over 10 years now, was particularly energized: “The study results were incredibly encouraging. We’ve known for years that Girls Inc. programming has been immensely impactful to girls throughout Washington and Oregon, but this study proved so more than we could’ve asked for.”

While there are more women today in key leadership positions than ever before, there still exists a pervasive gender gap in top leadership. Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead outlines four fundamental supports that Girls Inc. has determined are universally beneficial to girls and create the conditions for girls to overcome systemic societal challenges and become strong leaders: providing mentoring relationships, encouraging girls to develop and use their voices, promoting positive self-image, and fostering intellectual confidence. 

These supports help girls navigate and overcome the multifaceted, interconnected, and persistent barriers they face. The report highlights some of the most recent and significant research on girls, pointing to trends in eleven key factors that shape their lives. The report presents a comprehensive, holistic view of the landscape in which girls in both the U.S. and Canada are growing up. The following factors are examined: physical activity, mental health, substance use, teen pregnancy, educational achievement, STEM experiences, graduation rates, juvenile justice, healthy relationships — encompassing harassment, sexual abuse, and leadership opportunities. 

“The research shows us that Girls Inc. is making progress on some of the toughest issues girls face — but we, and all of us working in this field, still have a ways to go, especially for girls of color, LBGTQ+ girls, and low-income girls. They need equity of access to wellbeing and opportunity, and we have to see the whole girl, in her context and community. That’s what Girls Inc. has always done. We think that’s a key to the success we’ve achieved,” said Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D., President & CEO of Girls Inc. 

Recently, the American Institutes for Research completed a rigorous comparison study designed to isolate and identify the impact of the Girls Inc. on girls’ lives. The evaluation was a two-year, quasi-experimental research study that compared girls in Girls Inc. with a similar group of non-participating girls on subjective self-report measures from girls on their experiences, skills, and attitudes, and objective measures from schools on academic and school-based performance. Researchers determined with confidence that regardless of demographic, academic, and social characteristics, girls who participated in Girls Inc. were outpacing their peers in multiple areas of success and were more likely to be:

  • STRONG: They exercise regularly and participate in sports teams.
  • SMART: They have higher standardized math test scores and self-confidence in STEM subjects, and see themselves in STEM careers.
  • SMART: They are engaged in and attend school, less likely to be suspended, and be prepared for life after high school.
  • BOLD: They see themselves as leaders, with the skills and capabilities to influence and improve their local communities.

“Our study found that girls who participate in the Girls Inc. Experience demonstrated improved academic performance, school-related behaviors, physical activity, and leadership outcomes,” said Dr. Deborah Moroney, Managing Director of the American Institutes for Research, a not-for-profit research organization with best-in-class experts focused on social science research, evaluation, and technical assistance.

About Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest

Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. Our comprehensive approach to supporting the development of the whole girl, equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. These positive outcomes are achieved through three core elements: people ‒ trained staff and volunteers who build lasting, mentoring relationships; environment ‒ girls-only, physically and emotionally safe, where there is a sisterhood of support, high expectations, and mutual respect; and programming ‒ research-based, hands-on and minds-on, age-appropriate, meeting the needs of today’s girls. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or learn more at