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Study of 10,000 girls’ self-esteem will surprise you

Thirty-One Gifts has co-sponsored a groundbreaking study of more than 10,000 U.S. girls – the largest of its kind – which revealed surprising data on girls’ self-esteem, the role of technology in their lives and their aspirations for the future. While its startling findings are heartbreaking, they also reveal key areas where opportunities for mentorship and other positive influence exist.

Columbus, Ohio-headquartered nonprofit organization Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc. (ROX) announced findings from The Girls' Index: New Insights into the Complex World of Today's Girls. This national survey of 10,678 fifth- through 12th-grade girls captures insights on girls' perceptions and experiences around fitting in, body image, peer pressure, academics, friendships and relationships. The report provides a comprehensive portrait for parents and educators of the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors of girls across the country.

According to ROX, findings of The Girls’ Index 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.

ROX concludes that because “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.”

"The bottom line is that we're missing out on at least half of what girls think, know and believe," says 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."

Thirty-One Gifts is proud to partner with ROX, which uses evidence-based programming to provide 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. Learn more about ROX, including ways you can get involved, at