Parents of Girls: Listen Up

The annual SXSW conference is a barometer of what’s happening at the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. One of the topics that drew attention from a lot of attendees at this year’s Austin, TX gathering was the “Girls’ Index” a national study that surveyed more than 10,000 girls in grades 5-12.

The purpose of this study, undertaken by the Ohio-based organization, Ruling Our Experience, was to provide deeper insights into the “thoughts, experiences, perceptions, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of girls throughout the United States.”

Key Findings

The results of the study paint a picture that should concern all those who have a hand in educating and raising our daughters. Below is a summary of the main insights, excerpted from the study report:

  • Girls’ confidence declines sharply between 5th and 9th grade. Additionally, girls report high levels of pressure throughout their adolescence that may impact their confidence, including the need to be perfect at everything, appearance, grades, pressure from parents and peers, and sports and extra-curricular activities.
  • By the time girls are in high school, 86% report that most girls are in competition with one another.
  • By high school, sexting is common and prevalent (in 6th grade about 30% of girls report that most teens their age send sexually explicit texts and photos to one another. By 12th grade, this percentage rises to 75%).
  • High academic achievement does not fend off low self-confidence: 30% of the girls with the highest reported GPA (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.
  • Most girls like to be in charge, but self-doubt can impact their pursuit of leadership opportunities. 1 in 3 is afraid to be a leader for fear of others thinking she is bossy.

If you have a daughter and are concerned about these issues, we encourage you to access the report in its entirety ( to learn how you and others in your child’s life can take action to help her thrive through these tumultuous years.