The news: According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, some states are doing a better job raising their girls than others.
Using a series of statistical indicators that measured "key issues such as health, safety, educational achievement, as well as demographic trends of girls," the Girl Scouts of America decided to plot out the best and worst places for a young woman to grow up in America.
This graphic from the report sums up the findings:
States throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest fared well, while the South, Southwest and West Coast didn't fare as well. New Hampshire was the top-scoring state, followed by North Dakota, South Dakota, Massachusetts and Vermont. The worst were Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Mississippi.
Why's that? Senior researcher Kamla Modi told the Huffington Post that the results are closely tied to educational outcomes, another key socioeconomic indicator. She emphasized that New Hampshire, the best state to raise girls, was also second in education, while bottom-ranked Mississippi was 44th.
The South continually ranks very poorly when it comes to entrenched poverty, economic mobility, health care and happiness, which also probably explains some of the massive disparity. According to the Institute for Southern Studies, the South is the "epicenter of the U.S. child poverty crisis," as home to a disproportionate number of the 23% of children who live in poverty across the United States.
The report further notes that black and Latino girls "face significant challenges in making successful transitions to adulthood," such as higher rates of obesity (22% for white girls aged 10-17, but 35% for Hispanics and 41% for African-Americans) and lower proficiency rates in school (43% in math among white girls, but just 19% for Latinos and 14% for African-Americans).
Also, for what it's worth, it's interesting to note that, although not perfectly lined up, there is a fair amount of overlap between the Girl Scouts' map and the results of the 2012 presidential election:
On every page, the report emphasizes that "Data is not destiny!" as a reminder that young women shouldn't be written off as statistically doomed, instead emphasizing the need to help all young women reach their full potential.