Research Initiatives

We love bringing new, research-based ideas to life in our programming and curriculum. So we seek out recent research from leading universities, think-tanks, and consortiums — and we also participate in it. 

The Center for the Advancement of Girls translates information into inspiration that creates the most advantageous environment for girls to thrive. We're constantly on the lookout for new research about how girls learn best. We collect and collate data from leading studies, then develop methods for bringing relevant research to our campus and into our classrooms. And when possible, we participate in ongoing research from leading academic researchers and advocates that study the trends, influences, and experiences that shape our girls’ futures.

Research Studies

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

We partnered with Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to participate in a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation that researches the influence of peers on adolescent academic engagement of middle school girls and aspirations in science and mathematics. Results of the study help us reinforce those interactions that promote engagement and persistence of girls in STEM fields. 

Learn about our Middle School Curriculum 

Vassar College

Agnes Irwin Upper School students participated in a national study on how girls seek support and self-compassion in a culture of effortless perfection. Led by Rachel Simmons, best-selling author of Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl, these results will influence future programming at Agnes Irwin. 

Ms. Simmons has also led a retreat for faculty that inspired our wellness programming based on these findings. 

Learn about our Wellness Curriculum

Cornell University

We partnered with the Development of Social Cognition Laboratory at Cornell University on a study that aims to explore how ideas of leadership are developed in lower school children, including what kinds of traits children value in leaders, and what causes children to be more confident in themselves as leaders. More than 40 Lower School students participated in this study with Cornell researchers, playing short games that explored leadership traits in multiple scenarios. 

Researchers are particularly interested in the impact of our Lower School's Leadership Toolkit©, which specifically addresses leadership identity in young learners.


Participatory Action Research

Bryn Mawr College

The persistent gender gap in top leadership roles in the United States is well documented in academic and popular research. The Center, along with Agnes Irwin faculty, partnered with Bryn Mawr College's Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research to embark upon a participation action research study with our Lower School to look at ways to foster leadership identities in young girls.

The result was an intentional leadership identity development curriculum: Living Leadership in the Lower School and our Leadership Toolkit®, which is embedded throughout our Lower School curriculum. Unique to Agnes Irwin, this program helps bring abstract ideas about leadership to life for young learners, and helps students identify themselves as leaders in more complex and nuanced ways. Below are elements from our Leadership Toolkit that students use every day.