Barack Obama has only been in office for a few hours, but he has already spurred teenagers to want to get involved in public service, according to a new study released by the Girl Scout Research Institute.
In the institute’s survey of 2,309 girls and 975 boys, aged 13 to 17, nearly half (49 percent) said the election had increased their interest in politics, and 44 percent reported that it had inspired an interest in social and political activism. The majority (71 percent) of those surveyed said they plan to vote when they are old enough.
The election also heightened young people’s awareness of gender and racial barriers, but at the same time appeared to lift their confidence in their ability to overcome such obstacles. While one- third of those polled believed that Barack Obama was held to a higher standard because of his race, 48 percent thought that race ultimately helped him in the election.
On the subject of gender, 43 percent of girls strongly agreed that “girls have to work harder than boys in order to gain positions of leadership,” as compared with 25 percent who did so a year ago.
Despite this, 59 percent of the girls said the election had increased their confidence in their ability to achieve their goals, and 41 percent said the election had increased their desire to be a leader.