The State of Girls: Unfinished Business

Although U.S. girls have made significant gains in many areas, they still face challenges that could prevent them from achieving their full potential, according to The State of Girls: Unfinished Business, a groundbreaking report from the Girl Scout Research Institute and the Population Reference Bureau released today.

The study found that significant hurdles such as poverty, educational attainment, and lack of quality out-of-school-time activities face all girls—and that those challenges are compounded by racial and economic disparities.

Minnesota is no exception.


According to the study, one in five girls (20.5%) in the United States lives below the poverty line, and of that total:

  • 37.2% of African American girls,
  • 33.6% of Native American girls,
  • 32.9% of Latina girls,
  • 21.1% of girls of two or more races, live below the poverty line.

In Minnesota, 15% of girls live in poverty, and of that total: 1

    • 51% of Native American girls,
    • 46% of African American girls,
    • 31% of Hispanic girls, and
    • 10% of white girls live in poverty.

Out-of-School Time (OST)

In a typical year, young people have 2,000 hours of discretionary time, but not all girls have access to or can afford structured activities.2

  • In 2010, 3 in 10 Minnesota 6th graders reported they were home alone or unsupervised three or more days in a typical week.
  • In 2010, 24% of Minnesota 6th graders who were not enrolled in OST activities reported that cost was a barrier to participation.

Education + Academic Success


Student graduation rates are an economic issue, and although high school graduation rates have improved, there are still stark disparities among racial and economic groups.

  • The State of Girls found that nationally, 4.1% of white girls, 8.1% of black girls, and 16.1% of Latina girls drop out of high school.
  • Minnesota ranks 22nd for graduation among African American students and 37th among Hispanic/Latino students. 3


Women make up half of the population but hold less than one-third of leadership roles in many fields. Many girls do not see themselves as leaders and perceive too many barriers in achieving leadership roles.

  • Minnesota has a pronounced lack of women’s leadership in business.
    • None of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies are led by a woman.4
    • Women hold just 14 percent of corporate board seats in the state.4
  • Women are underrepresented in government. While Minnesota is among the nation’s leaders in electing women, only 34% of Minnesota state legislators are female, and there has never been a female governor.4

Science, Technology, Engineering + Math (STEM)


The new study shows girls have high interest in STEM careers but low exposure to STEM fields. If current trends continue, job openings in STEM careers will far outpace the supply of qualified candidates in the United States.

In Minnesota, men are twice as likely to hold jobs in high-paying STEM fields like computers and mathematics, and five times as likely to work in architecture and engineering fields.5

“We need to wake up to these findings,” said Linda B. Keene, CEO of Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys. “Society is rapidly changing. During these girls’ lifetimes, the current minority will make up the majority—the majority of employees, leaders, entrepreneurs, and parents. As a state, we simply cannot afford to ignore the challenges and disparities facing our girls.”

As the premier leadership development organization for girls, Girl Scouts knows that data is not destiny and is committed to working with educators, policy makers, nonprofit leaders, parents, communities, and the girls themselves to meet those challenges.

As one of the largest councils in the nation, River Valleys believes that all girls should have the chance to create change for the future, regardless of socioeconomic status.

No girl is turned away from Girl Scouts for inability to pay. Financial assistance is available to ensure that all girls in K–12 have the opportunity to experience a safe, girl-only space where they can explore, dream, and lead.

For the complete national study, visit State of Girls: Unfinished Business. Media in Minnesota interested in speaking with experts may contact Jen Thorson at 651-379-4798 or


  1. 2012 Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota: Research Overview, Center on Women and Public Policy, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 2012.
  2. Girl Scouts Research Institute. The State of Girls: Unfinished Business (2013)
  3. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2008). Common Core of Data.
  4. Women in Elective Office 2013, Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers State University of New Jersey, 2013.
  5. 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates for Minnesota, United States Census Bureau, 2011.