“Decoding the Digital Girl” offers parents and teachers insight on how to help today’s girls become tomorrow’s tech leaders
BEDFORD, NH | Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains announces the release of a new study, Decoding the Digital Girl: Defining and Supporting Girls’ Digital Leadership, conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI). The GSRI surveyed close to 2,900 girls and boys ages 5–17 and their parents to learn more about girls’ digital leadership, the role of parents and caregivers in this domain, and any differences in digital leadership between girls and boys.
“At Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, we know that Girl Scouts are using technology to lead in our community,” said CEO Patricia Mellor. “Today, we’re excited to share data that confirms girls are developing their tech leadership skills and connecting with others digitally to share what they’re learning and advance social causes they believe in. We invite everyone who interacts with Girl Scouts, and girls at large, to support their leadership development in the digital space.”
Decoding the Digital Girl emphasizes that Girl Scouts are changing the world through their digital leadership. In New Hampshire and Vermont, our girls are earning badges in cybersecurity, robotics, space exploration, mechanical engineering, environmental advocacy, life skills, the outdoors, and more.
In Dover, NH, a trio of Girl Scout Cadettes are working on their Silver Award, not just learning to do computer coding, but teaching it to others. In Wolfeboro, NH, a Girl Scout troop has formed an all-Girl-Scout FIRST Lego League Team. Julia Tilton, a Girl Scout Ambassador From Amherst, NH, is earning her Gold Award by addressing the issues of overuse of tech and the effect social media can have on a girl’s self-confidence.
Girl Scouts were included in the study to help gauge how effectively Girl Scouts develops female leaders in the digital space. The data shows that Girl Scouts are more likely to be digital leaders than boys and non–Girl Scout girls (64% vs. 50% of boys and 43% of non–Girl Scout girls). Girl Scouts particularly stand out when it comes to connecting to social issues and causes online (72% vs. 51% of non–Girl Scout girls) and connecting others to social causes through technology (63% vs. 37% of non–Girl Scout girls).
Decoding the Digital Girl reports that girls match boys in digital leadership overall, with 52 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys qualifying as digital leaders. There are, however, some specific gender-based differences that highlight girls’ tech strengths, including the findings that girls are more likely than boys to use technology to create (e.g., make videos using apps and online programs), to discover a new talent or interest, and to engage in educational activities, such as playing games for learning purposes (compared to boys, who are more likely to play online games for fun).
In citing differences between girls’ and boys’ tech use, the study also suggests how adults can better support their girls’ digital leadership development. For one, interviews with parents who participated in the study show that they treat their daughters and sons differently when it comes to tech use, often putting stricter parameters on daughters’ digital engagement. Additionally, many parents and caregivers report that their sons figure out new tech on their own, whereas their daughters learn tech from someone else.
Furthermore, the new GSRI research finds that girls in lower-income households may be missing out on valuable digital learning experiences. With less access to computers and devices (laptops, desktops, and tablets), they are less likely than their higher-income peers to participate in educational activities online and less likely to become digital leaders overall. Decoding the Digital Girl puts data behind the possibilities for girls’ digital leadership—leadership that can continue to benefit our community and beyond—illustrating the need for society to support and expand digital access and opportunities for all girls.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.