I recently had the opportunity to express my opinions on the strength of Girl Scouts’ single-gender programming in the Sacramento Business Journal. It appeared in the publication’s Another Voice column on October 27, 2017.
“The recent announcement that girls soon will be able to participate alongside boys in Boy Scout programs has caused a flurry of conversations with a range of opinions. As CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, I welcome the opportunity to express mine.
Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls. Our purpose is to develop strong girls who have courage, confidence and character. One of our goals is to foster the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Let’s not confuse the issue. Allowing girls to join Boy Scouts is not about gender equity. Girl Scouts has been in existence for more than 100 years to help girls step out of their comfort zone; support them in taking risks; provide opportunities they would not otherwise have; and help them become the leaders our world needs. This is accomplished through a research-based program in a safe, all-girls environment. Our programs have been building female leaders for more than a century, and doing it well.
We believe in the power of a single-gender organization to support the growth and development of girls. Research shows that girls are more likely to speak openly and honestly in an all-girl space. Girls report that they are more authentic and are more apt to take risks when it is “just girls.” As a result, girl-only programs tend to be dynamic, free and full of ideas and conversations.
Girl Scouts provides a rigorous, yet fun program full of options for girls aged 5 to 18. Though we are best known for the world’s largest girl-run business—our cookie program—that is just the tip of the iceberg.
We offer opportunities to learn 21st century skills across a wide range of areas. Girls can earn more than 260 badges in critical areas including, financial literacy, marketing and business acumen. And more than 1/3 of our badges are focused on outdoor and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
In our 18-county region, we offer two resident camps on more than 500 acres in El Dorado and Calaveras counties. Our girls have the opportunity to ride one of our 18 horses, rock climb in Yosemite, build a cabin in our Under Construction program, and yes, cook over a campfire. We have plans in the near future for an outdoor urban adventure area adjacent to our Sacramento Program Center.
Next month, we are opening a STEM Center + MakerSpace at our Sacramento Program Center and next year plan to open a second STEM Center + MakerSpace at our Modesto Program Center. Soon after that we will serve our rural communities with a mobile STEM Center.
With our focus on mechanical engineering, biological and environmental sciences, programming and robotics, girls develop skills that have the potential to change their lives. A mother told me just last week that her daughter attended our STEM Expo and now has plans to become an engineer.
We have a Gold Award program that is equal to the Eagle Scout award. Our girls engage in projects that are sustainable and make a difference in their communities. Gold Award Girl Scouts have the opportunity to enter the armed services one rank higher than other recruits and are eligible for more than 40 different college scholarships. Gold Award Girl Scouts enter college and the workforce prepared to lead and with a greater commitment to their communities.
In short, Girl Scouts matters. Today’s girls deserve a program designed and dedicated specifically for them. A program based on research about what girls need to thrive.
Boys certainly have much to gain from their Boy Scout experience, and the Boy Scouts would do well to focus on recruiting and supporting more boys.
Girl Scouts will continue do the same for girls. For girls truly deserve the Girl Scout advantage.”
I’d love to hear how the Girl Scout advantage has shaped your life. Feel free to leave a comment here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org