October 17, 2017
Dear Girl Scout Friends and Families,
Last week, the Boy Scouts announced they will begin accepting girls into their programs in 2018. The announcement has created a lot of media buzz and a multitude of conflicting opinions on this development. The biggest question, however, is how will this impact Girl Scouts.
Certainly, the Boy Scouts become another activity choice for girls and their families, adding to the Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H, sports teams and more.
The Boy Scouts are framing their move around families and the convenience of taking their sons and daughters to the same activity. Some girls may want to join Boy Scouts because they think Boy Scouts do more, especially outdoor adventures. Yet, according to a recent Time magazine article, "There's actually a great deal of overlap among the different badge skills, including camping, car maintenance, first aid, fitness, budgeting and even robotics." Both organizations offer strong STEM programs and each offer a high award - the Gold Award for girls and the Eagle Scout rank for boys. Some girls are drawn to the Eagle Scout rank because it's better known and seemingly more prestigious. While it may be better known, the Gold Award is actually more challenging to earn since it requires making a measurable, sustainable impact.
Yes, Girl Scouting is different. Very different. Our program is all about girls, informed by research on how best to empower girls to lead, thrive and gain skills, beginning in kindergarten. We give girls the safe space of an all-girl environment, where they are free from the gender stereotypes entrenched in our society. Girls gain confidence and build grit and leadership qualities through experiences that are girl-led and designed to encourage learning-by-doing and cooperative learning.
Girls face unique challenges and they need support from the very beginning to build the resilience and confidence to overcome peer and media pressure. The Girl Scout program is designed and proven to change these sad statistics for girls.
- Beginning around 6 years old, girls start thinking that boys are smarter than they are.
- In elementary school, girls are as excited about math and science as boys, but lose interest by middle school.
- One out of three girls say they are afraid to lead because of what others might think of them.
A report published this past summer by the Girl Scout Research Institute, The Girl Scout Impact Study, shows that participating in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life. Compared to their peers, Girl Scouts are more likely than non-Girl Scouts to be leaders because they:
- Have confidence in themselves and their abilities (80 % vs. 68 %)
- Act ethically and responsibly, with concern for others
(75 % vs. 59 %)
- Seek challenges and learn from setbacks (62 % vs. 42 %)
- Develop and maintain healthy relationships (60 % vs. 43 %)
- Exhibit community problem solving skills (57 % vs. 28 %)
- Take an active role in decision making (80 % vs. 51 %)
In short, Girl Scouting works. As CEO of this council for more than 20 years, I have seen the impact our program makes in the lives of girls.
I continue to strongly believe that Girl Scouts is THE best leadership program for girls. We know the unique needs of girls and the work required to overcome the gender bias and gender gaps that exist in every facet of business and society.
Please share your Girl Scout stories and how you've seen Girl Scouts build girls into confident leaders. Thank you for all you do, each and every day, to help make the world a better place.
Some folks in Girl Scouts may feel threatened by this move. I, as a troop leader, find it curious and interesting, rather than threatening. As a troop leader, I have a special view into just how much Girl Scouts offers girls. I am beyond thrilled that I get to journey with my girls through this leadership program. I am interested to see what Boy Scouts will offer girls; what they will offer very much remains to be seen.
What I know as a troop leader is that my daughters have more opportunities than they could possibly take advantage of in a given year to earn badges and gain confidence in their skills and in themselves. Girl Scouts offers girls every opportunity I've ever heard of Boy Scouts offering boys--and then some.
On a personal note: I have lived the consequences of a male-dominated society my entire life. I was told as a girl and as a woman that I could never be a priest because Jesus, the male man-God, wouldn't have wanted it. I've been told countless times in countless ways to defer to the authority of males--in church, in the academy, in my career path, in virtually every aspect of my life. I've been taught to be silent in the face of male harrassment, abuse, and assault, lest I bring shame or humiliation unto myself. I've been boxed in to "feminine" stereotypes and roles again and again and again. But in Girl Scouts, girls aren't told what they can and can't be. We don't tell them, explicitly or implicitly, that their voices matter less than those of their male counterparts. We lift girls up to be whoever and whatever they want to be. Every time I lead a Scout meeting, every time I go to a Troop Leader meeting, I catch myself looking around in awe at the talent and interest and curiosity and leadership in the girls and women I see, uninterrupted by the casual sense of superiority/privilege that boys and men so often bring.
I think it's great that Boy Scouts are going to accept girls--because maybe those boys will figure out that girls can do anything they can do (and just as well, if not better).
As for Girl Scouts: if the Boy Scouts come up with a great idea, girls will examine it and make it even better for themselves, without asking for some boy or man's permission. Because we we are G.I.R.L. Scouts: Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders.