Commentary: Why Girl Scouting Works
Following this week’s announcement by the Boy Scouts of America that the organization will start accepting girls into the program, Mary Barneby, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, issued the following commentary.
For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts continues to be the best leadership experience for girls; period. Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunity to be a part of an inclusive, girl-led, safe environment where they can try new things, develop a range of skills, take on leadership roles, and feel comfortable failing. Girl Scouts is, and remains to be, the one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results.
Girl Scouting offers many outdoor adventures and activities for its girl members. In addition to providing summer camp and troop camping opportunities, we just introduced 23 new STEM and outdoor badges to build outdoor and adventure skills, boost girl engagement in STEM, and encourage girls to challenge themselves in areas they are often underrepresented. However, the issue of which organization offers more experience is actually much less important than why it is essential for others to learn and experience activities with other girls. There is still a critical need for single-gender learning experiences for girls in America today.
What single-gender learning offers girls is the opportunity to try and fail in fields they might not feel comfortable experiencing in the presence of boys, whom the girls might view as the natural “leaders” in those fields. Single-gender girl experiences require that a girl (or girls) step up and be the editor of the school paper, the student council president, the chair of the science or mathematics club, and so on. In doing so, the girls realize that they are able to have a seat at the table, or even at the head of the table and are thereby more confident, self-assured, and ready to compete in the real world.
When Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouting in 1912 – eight full years before suffrage – she wanted to create a global movement that would make the world better for girls. Her goal was to “level the playing field,” so girls could get outside and ride horses, play basketball, and even wear pants. Sadly, as we view the world today, the “playing field” is still not level and gender equality in many areas of the workforce still does not exist. As early as middle school, girls begin to shy away from math and other STEM disciplines.
The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than it is today—and only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success.
Girl Scouts works. We’re committed to preparing the next generation of women leaders, and we’re here to stay.