I was dismayed by a recent article on another news site comparing Girl Scouts to another scouting organization. Beyond the oversimplification of both programs, the article also failed to capture the benefits of the Girl Scout organization. Girl Scouting is much more than earning badges.
No other organization comes even close to Girl Scouts in providing girls opportunities to transform their ideas into action, turn their questions into adventure, and grow their confidence through healthy and courageous risks. The Girl Scouts’ innovative leadership development experience is research-backed and time-tested, teaching girls 21st century skills in everything from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and financial literacy to civic engagement and community service. Just as important, Girl Scouts offers rewarding camping and outdoor adventures that build character, confidence, environmental stewardship and a lifelong love of nature and the outdoors.
In July 2019, Girl Scouts released 42 new badges for girls in K-12 that allow them to make their own choices about how they want to experience and influence the world. These badges offer girls a variety of opportunities from adventuring in the snow or mountains to learning how to use coding to solve problems they care about. Encouraging girls to make choices as to how they want to earn each badge is critical for developing their sense of self, their own voice, and gender equality. Research from the World Bank Group shows that increasing women's agency and decision-making abilities is key to improving their lives, communities, and the world. And research shows that Girl Scouts are more likely than other girls to take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%).
Leadership and decision-making skills have long been part of the Girl Scout model. But in today’s world, starting early and building confidence in young girls and young women seems more important than ever. From the youngest Girl Scout Daisies to Gold Award Girl Scouts, the most prestigious honor a Girl Scout can earn, Girl Scouts builds confidence and supports girls in transforming their ideas and vision for change into actionable plans with measurable, sustaining and far-reaching results. And in doing so, Girl Scouts is developing courageous leaders and visionary change makers who are the bright future for our state. These young women will lead organizations like mine or will invent new products, services and organizations that will make our world a better place.
Developing the next generation of female leaders is at the center of every Girl Scout experience. The organization is always looking ahead. In fact, just last year, Girl Scouts of the USA made a pledge to our nation’s business leaders to add 2.5 million girls to the STEM pipeline by 2025 — an effort particularly important for New Jersey. In the next decade alone, the overall demand for scientists and engineers in our state is expected to increase at twice the rate of all other occupations.
The results of Girl Scout programming are proven — Girl Scouts earn better grades, have higher academic aspirations, and seek careers in fields where women are underrepresented, including STEM, business and law. There’s no reason to compare Girl Scouts to any other organization because the merits of the Girl Scout leadership experience stand on its own. Always has and always will.