Raising a strong, successful girl is every parent’s priority. We want our girls to be resilient, intelligent, creative, and valued members of society, but we also want them to be happy and thrive! Equally as important, our communities desperately need positive, powerful girls and women who are willing to work for change and know how to make things happen, both now and in the future. How we get there, though, is critical.
The Girl Scout Research Institute focuses on measuring the impact of programming for girls and leads national conversations about girl development. Recent findings have helped us create the G.I.R.L. framework to identify critical characteristics of, and create programs for, girls who will thrive at home, at school, in their communities, and beyond.
Anyone can create a “What kind of leader are you?” Buzzfeed quiz. But at Girl Scouts, we know that girls are complex and amazing individuals who cannot be put in a box. That’s why we have created the concept of G.I.R.L., which stands for Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader. These words represent “non-cognitive” skills – aspects of a girl’s personality which can be developed over time in the right environment, something that Girl Scouts has excelled at over 100 years. So what makes your girl, a G.I.R.L? What strengths does she exhibit, and which ones can you nurture so that she reaches her full potential?
Is your girl a Go-Getter? A go-getter is a girl with a mission: she’s unstoppable, takes initiative, and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. If you tell her she can have a new bike if she earns enough money to buy one, she’s off posting flyers across the neighborhood and on every telephone pole promoting her babysitting service. Whatever wild dream she dreams, she’ll find a way to make it happen.
Is your girl an Innovator? An innovator is a creator, a problem-solver, and a dreamer. She approaches problems as an opportunity to discover never-before-seen solutions and tackles her obstacles head-on with curiosity and innovation. Is her bedroom too small? Perhaps she’ll figure out a way to loft her bed! Is her brother too loud? She’ll figure out how to make the loft soundproof and invite her friends over to try it out – perhaps there’s a business opportunity here?
Is your girl a Risk-Taker? The risk-taker is a fearless ball of energy who loves to take chances and speak her mind. Her curiosity supports her in being the first to try new things, voice new ideas, support new causes, and throw caution to the wind as she leaves her comfort zone behind. You’ll know your girl is a risk-taker if she’s the first to befriend the new kid at school or if she’s eager to try out for a new sports team, even if she doesn’t know how to play.
Is your girl a Leader? A leader is the girl who gravitates toward showing others the way; she’s an influencer, a confident communicator with a can-do attitude, and knows just how to rally a group around the task at hand. She’ll organize her classmates to fight a crummy school lunch program, apply to run the school paper, or try out to be the captain of the basketball team. Overall, she’s both a helper and a leader, using her integrity and intuition to guide the way.
Though just one of these characteristics can seemingly dominate a person’s personality – “She’s a born leader!” or “She has no fear, what a risk-taker!” – more often than not, a little bit of each characteristic lives within us; sometimes in ways we’d never expect. Often, we believe that a leader is a charismatic, loud, forceful, assertive person; however, a person with leadership skills isn’t always an extrovert! Leaders can be trailblazers through their quiet persistence and thoughtful approach – after all, leadership isn’t’ a label, it’s a lifestyle that’s practiced every single day. In fact, some of our favorite women leaders – think Hillary Clinton, Mae Jemison, and Taylor Swift, all famous Girl Scout alumnae – have combined their innovator and risk-taker characteristics to become entrepreneurs, or go-getter and leader personalities to become juggernauts in changing legislation at the local, state, and federal level.
Just like the famous Girl Scout alumnae we’ve previously mentioned, today’s girls and their families benefit from Girl Scout experiences that help a girl lead and thrive, whether at a camp, in a troop, at school, or on an international trip. Girl Scouts is not just another program; it’s a movement that equips girls with skills and experiences that have lifetime value relevant to today’s academic and professional landscapes. We create rich, ground-breaking experiences that are girl-led and supported by caring adults who create safe spaces for girls to try new things and reach their full potential.
To help you engage with your daughter, and learn more about what kind of G.I.R.L. she wants to be, download our free resources. Together, you can explore the activities she’d like to try and the experiences she’d like to have while developing her courage, confidence and character.