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Latinas Taking the Lead Reunion: Study Results Support Girl Scout/Sam Houston State University Leadership Model
In October, a group of Junior Girl Scouts and their families came together to celebrate their participation in Latinas Taking the Lead (LTL), a leadership development program sponsored by Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) and Sam Houston State University (SHSU). The program also served as a research study using pre and post testing to measure how the training affected the self-esteem and leadership behaviors of Hispanic girls. At the reunion, the attendees and their families were among the first to hear the outcomes of the study.
The results supported the model that was developed by Marilyn Butler, a Sam Houston State University faculty member who teaches economics and who is also pursuing her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the College of Education at SHSU. The leadership model that she developed for her dissertation study in concert with GSSJC incorporates generations of role models and the Girl Scout program model of Discover, Connect, and Take Action.
The experimental population for the study was 1,604 Girl Scouts in grades 4-6 who resided in the 25 county area of GSSJC and self-identified as Hispanic.
Of this population, 120 girls were randomly selected and randomly assigned into one of two groups of 60 girls each. Both groups took two pre-tests, the Leadership Skills Inventory (LSI) and the Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory (SEI). The experimental group then participated in a seven-session leadership course in the spring before taking the post-test. The control group took the post-test without the course. Once the results were confirmed to show a positive effect, the second group participated in an intensive weeklong session, using the same leadership model.
While the Coopersmith SEI pre-test indicated that the self-esteem of participating Latina youth was at the top quartile compared to the norm sample and other Hispanic youth – the girls’ scores increased even higher on the post-test following the leadership training. The analysis indicated that the leadership training had a significant effect on leadership skills in four critical areas: speech communications skills, personal skills, decision-making skills and group dynamic skills. Most interestingly, there is a positive correlation between the number of years in Girl Scouting and the score of six of the nine key leadership skills on the LSI. The more years the girl had been a Girl Scout, the greater her leadership skills in the following six areas: Fundamentals of Leadership, Written Communication, Character Building, Decision-making, Group Dynamic and Problem-solving.
There was also ample anecdotal evidence about the benefits to LTL participants. “My daughter was very quiet and shy,” says Jeanne Chucle. “After the leadership seminar, she ran a second time for Student Council and was confident to speak to classmates on important issues. She took polls and campaigned. She not only won, but she feels great about herself.”
Young girls want adult support and guidance according to a 2000 study by Girl Scouts of the USA. An integral part of the girls’ successful participation in the LTL program was the support of family members and other caring adults.
“The adult involvement was key in helping girls grow their leadership potential,” says Butler. “But it was equally clear to me that these girls were willing to make a commitment to their own development as a leader. I am honored to have participated in this project and so proud of the girls.”
Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.7 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving over 63,000 girl members and 18,000 adults in 25 southeast Texas counties. For more information please call 713-292-0300 or visit www.gssjc.org.
GSSJC Pluralism Statement
Embracing and promoting pluralism is an integral part of every activity and plan of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, not disconnected or separate projects. Only individuals willing to accept and be educated about the basic tenet that Girl Scouting is for all girls may serve in volunteer leadership or staff positions.
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