New research shows Black girls outperform their peers in confidence and leadership potential, yet they continue to lack opportunities to lead

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National nonprofit organization, Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc. (ROX) releases its latest research report, Girls, Diversity and The Future, which reflects insights from 10,678 girls across the nation

The research shows that despite embodying key traits of leadership, Black girls face a world that does not embrace their leadership in school, government or corporate America.

Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc. (ROX) released its latest research report, Girls, Diversity and The Future, which reflects insights from 10,678 girls across the nation. This study by the leading national experts on programming, research and education for girls offers parents, educators, mentors and policymakers a glimpse into the world of today's girls and their unique beliefs, behaviors and barriers across demographics.

The in-depth survey and analysis captures insights from 5th through 12th grade girls and reveals their perceptions and experiences around confidence, leadership, school and support. Research findings include:

Despite embodying key traits of leadership, Black girls face a world that does not embrace their leadership in school, government or corporate America. Nationally, Black women make up just 4% of school superintendents, 8% of our country’s elected officials and there are no Black female CEOs among all Fortune 500 companies.The Girls, Diversity and The Future research indicates that when compared to their peers, Black girls are the most equipped and eager to lead. They confidently embrace being in charge and are not afraid to express their opinions, yet they face barriers to leadership roles.

Affluence does not promote confidence nor feeling supported by adults. Girls who attend affluent schools are nearly 10% less likely to report that they have supportive adults to talk to about serious issues. Similarly, high socioeconomic status does not insulate girls from the confidence challenges that plague girls of this age; they experience similar declines in confidence.

Black girls have higher rates of confidence and belief in their academic abilities compared to their peers, yet are the most likely to experience harsher school discipline, suspensions and expulsions. Black girls experience an increase in confidence from elementary school to middle school, while all other groups of girls experience a sharp decline. Similarly, Black girls are more likely to believe they are smart enough for their dream job compared to their same-age peers, and 81% report that their teachers treat them like they are smart. Despite all of this, Black girls are more likely to have negative discipline-related experiences in school.

When girls of color are in the majority, they are more likely to believe they are smart and capable than if they are one of few people of color in a situation. While race does not exclusively predict the way girls feel about their academic abilities and opportunities, attending school and learning with others who are like them contributes to a sense of efficacy and ability. When girls of color are not learning alongside other girls of color, they feel less confident in their abilities and opportunities.

“Our data reinforces that we live in a society that does not always openly embrace girls and women who share their opinions, as this can often be viewed as aggressive. Sadly, this reality is only amplified for Black girls,” said Dr. Sibyl West, co-author of the study, co-director of the Frederick Douglass Institute for Intercultural Research and associate professor of counselor education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “When a Black girl speaks her mind, she can be labeled as hostile, disagreeable or rude. Her opinions and ideas can be dismissed or ignored more often than her peers. What this data is truly showing us is that Black girls are ready to lead and that they possess key traits and characteristics of leadership, but they face a world that doesn’t embrace their leadership.”

Dr. Lisa Hinkelman, founder/CEO of Ruling Our eXperiences (ROX) and co-author of this study said, “We have a responsibility to seize this critical moment in history. In Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, little girls everywhere finally have the chance to see a woman of color in the White House. Now it’s time for each of us – parents, educators and mentors – to identify what we should be doing individually, programmatically and systemically to address the disparities surrounding leadership opportunities for girls of color.”

About Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc.: Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc. (ROX) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Columbus, Ohio and is the national non-profit leader in programming, research and education focused on girls. The mission of ROX is to create generations of confident girls who can control their own relationships, experiences, decisions and futures. For more information about ROX programming and research visit

About Lisa Hinkelman, Ph.D.: Dr. Lisa Hinkelman is the founder and CEO of Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc. (ROX). She is a counselor, educator, researcher and author of the award-winning book, 'Girls Without Limits: Helping Girls Achieve Healthy Relationships, Academic Success and Interpersonal Strength' Corwin Press, 2013. Dr. Hinkelman's work for the past decade has focused on the critical issues impacting girls and how schools, parents and educators can effectively support and encourage girls' interpersonal, educational and career growth. Previously, as a Counselor Education faculty member at The Ohio State University, Dr. Hinkelman's teaching and scholarly research focused on social and emotional learning, non-academic barriers that impact learning and girls' self-concept development. She was selected as a Nominated Changemaker for The White House United State of Women and is a Draper, Richards, Kaplan Social Entrepreneur Fellow.

About Sibyl West, Ph.D.: Dr. Sibyl West is an associate professor of Counselor Education and the co-director of the Frederick Douglass Institute for Intercultural Research at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on school counseling competencies, creating safe and supportive learning environments for diverse students and multicultural and diversity issues in counseling and education. Dr. West is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on diversity and advocacy related topics. She is a graduate of Truman State University in Kirksville, MO where she earned her B.A. in English. She earned her M.Ed. in School Counseling from The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from The Ohio State University.

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Lauren Hancock
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