Why is it that girls’ self-esteem spirals downwards from 5th grade on?

The Girl’s Index examining girls’ self-esteem, relationships with others & more

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The Girls Index Self-Esteem spirals down from 5th grade on

In late 2017, Ocober to be precises, a study was published about girls. It’s called the Girl’s Index and examines girls’ self-esteem and relationships with others and a lot more. Personally, I’m fascinated by it as I was interested in seeing how it is for young girls these days. Are they making progress? What challenges do they face? Are relationships with other girls changing and more empowering or is the same old competition amongst one another present? Are boys acting differently? or is it the same old, same old? You can read how things are fairing for them here but first I’d like to ask and encourage you to take the time to have a conversation with your daughters, nieces, sisters, step-children, etc. In fact, even adult women can benefit from having this conversation with one another.

Moms, Dads and caretakers, will you talk about this with your girls?

The lazy summer month of August is often a time for relaxation and restoration and preparation for another school year. As families spend more time on vacation and prepare their children for school – shopping for supplies, uniforms and clothing – it just might be an opportune time for moms and caretakers to check out this report and connect with the young girls they are looking after and guiding. Sharing this with each other creates an opportunity to find out what girls in your life are feeling, facing and concerned about – creating dialogue.

The study asked questions relating to issues such as:

  • Self-Esteem & Confidence
Body Image
  • Friendships & Relationships
  • Stress & Pressure
Leadership & Career Aspirations
  • School & Academics
  • Technology & Social Media

A crisis of confidence

The most pressing issue for girls is a crisis of confidence, impacting their daily lives and how they experience the world. A few weeks ago I interviewed Julie Creffield a motivational speaker, coach and founder of Too Fat to Run. Too Fat to Run is a blog that evolved into a community of women who wanted to lead more active lives but often felt alone and were often held back by shame and fear of being judged. Her mission is to help grown women overcome shame and other obstacles and she recently did a TedX talk that asks this important question –

“If women are not playing sport because of judgement, what else are they not doing?”

It’s not just sport, it’s across the board. It starts from 5th grade and spirals downward rapidly through 9th grade and that doesn’t mean it starts to increase again, that’s the biggest plunge and it rarely rises again through High School, can level off there or get worse.

The Girls Index reports that 30% of girls who have a grade point average above 4.0
, do not think they are smart enough for their dream career. Even though they clearly demonstrate their academic capabilities by achieving a perfect grade point average. Nearly one in three continues to lack confidence in her own abilities and the options available to her.

“Girls deal a lot with Self-confidence and loving yourself for who you are. Girls constantly compare themselves to others, feeling as though they aren’t good enough. We get put down by boys, and even other girls.” – 11TH GRADE GIRLS’ INDEX PARTICIPANT

photo collage of girls on Conscious Life Space

Girls don’t want to appear too bossy

61% of girls say they


33% of girls say that they are afraid to be a leader because they


46% of all girls surveyed say they don’t say what they are thinking or disagree with others because –


The number increases for girls with an average GPA of 4.0 or higher to 62%.

Impact of Technology

Girls who spend
 the most time
 using technology
 are five times more likely
 to say they are sad or depressed nearly every day – 6 to 7 days per week. In contrast, girls who spend the least time using technology – four or fewer hours each week were more likely to be to be involved in activities such as sports, clubs, band, music or theatre and have more supportive relationships.

Here are some more important takeaways from the study

Girls thoughts around their relationships with other girls

Girls Statistics

Perceptions around respectful relationships with boys are also impacted with age

Even though girls’ relationships with one another sometimes become more complicated as they get older, their perceptions around respectful relationships with boys are also impacted with age.

Girls Statistics- Decrease in respect from boys

Nearly half (48%) of girls in elementary school say that guys their age are respectful of girls. By middle school, this drops to 33% and then to 20% by high school.


Here we go, not only do children have access to pornography skewing their views about sex, in the survey girls were asked about a variety of issues related to social media and technology – specifically trends around sexting. 20% of 6th graders say –

“Most students my age send sexually explicit texts” or “sexually explicit photos to one another.”

This increases to 75% in 12th grade. The girls were not asked if they have sent texts or photos, they were asked if they have been asked to send a photo. 11% of 6th grade girls say they have been asked; compared to 66% of high school seniors.

ROX, Ruling Our Experiences

You can read the study below, share it and/or download it too.



To sum it up, girls are facing a lot of challenges these days. The old pardigm isn’t shifting fast enough and girls have more challenges now with technology as it bombards them regularly. I’d like to suggest that this August (at anytime really if you’re reading this after school starts) other women and girls take this up with their moms, aunts, older sisters and other females in their life. What do you think? What’s your experience? Share in the comments.

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Source: Ruling Our Experiences, The Girls Index Report

Creative Entrepreneur | Website | + posts

Amy Adams is the editor of Conscious Life Space a lifestyle blog that focuses on living life consciously. Amy is an entrepreneur, publisher and creative. She hosts Conscious Life Space’s Conversations, a talk show distributed as a podcast. She is also a fine artist, periodic code warrior, supreme lover of dogs, epic gardener, and sometime self-proclaimed yoga goddess.

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