Keds, Girls Leadership Institute Study Girl’s Views of Bravery

Keds, Girls Leadership Institute Study Girl’s Views of Bravery


Keds introduced a thought leadership and research initiative to identify how teen girls view bravery. The Dare to Dream, Dare to Act: What Girls Say About Bravery study was conducted in partnership with the internationally recognized Girls Leadership Institute, a leading authority on helping girls create change in their world.

“Results from the study unveil eye-opening facts about our teen daughters and arm us with the knowledge we need to help girls become more brave and build self-confidence,” said Rick Blackshaw, president, Keds. “Our partnership with the Girls Leadership Institute and Co-Founder, Rachel Simmons, who led the analysis, will help us to create a more meaningful conversation with the teen girls in our lives. It will also help us to continue to deliver on our promise at Keds to be the sneaker brand that helps all teen girls to step out and shine.”

The landmark study included over 1,500 participants and took place from February – April 2014 through an independent online survey firm, and defines teen girls as between the ages of 13 – 18. To understand potential gaps in how gender plays a role in perceptions of bravery, a sample of teen boys of the same age range were included. Keds has made the study available for viewing on their online community website,

“The biggest learning is that we must change the conversation and redefine bravery for girls,” said Simmons. “We have to talk with girls about what being brave means in an everyday sense. Most girls know that they can learn to practice to be brave, but they don’t know where to go to learn how.” The study finds that teaching girls to ask for help, try new things, express disagreement, and stay open to new experiences will help them become braver. Programs that increase these skills in girls will also increase their bravery.

The study is part of the Keds Brave Life Project™, a program launched in January 2013, which provides tools and resources to help girls realize their full potential. Results will guide Keds and the Girls Leadership Institute in the creation of programming and toolkits that encourage girls to take positive risks and develop practical skills, and will be considered when planning how future grant money provided to girls by Keds is disseminated. Currently, a second wave of grant applications is being accepted on, providing girls with the opportunity to attend the Keds Brave Life Summit, taking place in New York City in August 2014. The first grant wave providing funds for career-advancement initiatives took place from February – April 2014.


Girls’ confusion about bravery could be keeping them from being brave

“Bravery is not reserved just for heroic circumstances, which 59 percent of girls believe,” Simmons said. “When only 18 percent of girls think that honesty and standing up for themselves counts as being brave, and one in five girls do not aspire to be more courageous, this is the type of thinking that needs to be changed.”

Do teen girls care about being brave?

79 percent of teen girls believe they have the potential to be brave
83 percent of teen girls are interested in a program to learn brave skills, but only 17 percent have had access to one
One-third of girls find it easier to be brave on behalf of a friend
94 percent of girls believe that they can learn to be brave

Girls think being a girl makes it harder to be brave

There is a “bravery gap” between teen girls and teen boys when identifying whether or not they view themselves as brave
Only 50 percent of girls think of themselves as brave vs. 63 percent of boys
61 percent of teen girls think boys are given more credit for being brave
29 percent think that being brave is more important for a boy
Nearly half (45 percent) of teen girls believe they need to be braver than boys in order to reach their goals
Another third say they wish they could be braver
10 percent of girls say there is a situation that happens every day where they wished they were braver
Notably, 1 in 5 teen girls doesn’t aspire to be more courageous

Girls feel more pressure than boys

71 percent of teen girls say they feel some sort of pressure in their lives, compared to 62 percent of boys
One in four teen girls reports feeling “a lot” of pressure, and this number increases with age
Age 13 – 14: 15 percent
Age 15 – 16: 27 percent
Age 17 – 18: 30 percent

Where does pressure come from?

66 percent of her daily pressure comes from school
A third of pressure comes from peers: classmates (18 percent), and friends (14 percent) represent a major source of stress
34 percent of teen girls said the number one source of pressure come from teachers, reflecting the dominance of concerns over their academic performance
79 percent of teen girls said that completing a higher education is their most important goal

The fear of peer judgment is keeping girls from reaching their full potential

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of teen girls say being judged by peers is their number one fear when deciding whether or not to be brave
If they decide to do something important to them, nearly 40 percent of girls ages 13-16 say they worry “some” or “a lot” about what their peers will think
34 percent of teen girls say they need bravery the most in their life when dealing with peer pressure, namely resisting the pressure to engage in risky behavior
23 percent fear being embarrassed or ridiculed

Contrary to popular belief, Moms are bigger influencers than friends

“We often think of teens as counting down the minutes until they can get away from their parents and hang out with their friends, but our research tells a different story. Her Mom is the most important person to a teen girl, with giving advice and making them feel supported cited as the most important support systems Moms provide,” said Simmons.

What do teen girls really think of their Moms?

77 percent of girls believe their Mother helps them pursue goals bravely
63 percent of girls who have a role model say it’s their Mother
60 percent of girls turn to their parents for support first (48 percent to Mom; 12 percent to Dad) opposed to turning to their friends first for support, which only 15 percent of girls reported doing
86 percent of girls say their parents help them be brave
The number one thing parents do to help girls be brave is give advice (78 percent) followed by making them feel loved and supported (72 percent)