Why We Remain Girl-Only: The Girl Scout Difference

With the Boy Scouts making the monumental decision to admit girls into their programs, many have asked if Girl Scouts will in turn welcome boys. Some feel that in 2018, a true step of gender equality is to accept all to whatever program they desire. While we believe that it’s time to separate the idea of what constitutes ‘boy things’ and ‘girl things,’ Girl Scouts will not compromise our belief that our program works because it is girl-only.

Unfortunately, we live in a world filled with both conscious and subconscious gender bias. Research shows that girls are more self-conscious in environments with boys and are even less likely to raise their hand in class. Teachers frequently leave boys to solve problems on their own while providing girls with a little more assistance.

Examples like these show how girls are taught from a young age that they aren’t capable.

It’s not as if everyone is setting out to place these prejudices against females, but the sad reality of our culture is that’s what happens. Think about your own experiences. Whether it’s getting cat-called on the street, being mansplained to about an area you’re educated in, getting passed over for a promotion because it went to a man with less experience, or having men comment on your appearance at work, it’s likely you’ve felt these frustrations.

The whole world still feels like a boys club, with professions still regarded as for men and activities that discourage girl participation. Most of our lives are spent around the opposite sex, so Girl Scouts serves as an oasis where girls can grow without feeling the societal gender pressures.

Some will argue further that the separation shows girls they can’t compete with boys, and an organization with both genders levels the playing field, but they’re missing the point. When combined, girls are less likely to be confident, take risks, or experience new opportunities. Girl Scouts allows them to grow and try new things where it’s safe and judgement-free.

If you need to be further convinced, check out this post from Girl Scouts of the USA > 10 Reasons Girl Scouts is (Still) the Best Place for Girls

At the end of the day, we have the research that shows girls thrive in all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environments. Not only do they learn better, they have the chance to try new skills, see what they’re capable of, be leaders, and know that failure is okay because we always get back up and try again.

Why STEM Matters for Girls: The Girl Scout Difference

Over the summer, Girl Scouts announced 30 new STEM badges for girls as well as new journeys. In November 2017, the organization pledged to raise $70 million to help bring 2.5 million girls into the STEM pipeline by 2025. While many viewed this news with enthusiasm, some still ask why it matters. Others argue not every girl wants to be in a STEM field and worry Girl Scouts is moving away from its roots in the outdoors. We’re here to help you understand.

What is STEM?

Before we continue, it’s important to identify exactly what STEM is. The acronym stands for science, technology, mathematics, and engineering, four subjects most girls in the United States will be exposed to, yet few will pursue.

16

Why don’t more girls pursue STEM fields?

Think about the clothes you’ve seen in the kids section. The girls have frilly shirts covered with sparkles, claiming things like ‘when I grow up, I want to be a mermaid’ or ‘princess’ or ‘unicorn.’ Meanwhile boys clothes will say things like ‘astronaut.’

Realize it or not, girls are conditioned to think about more ‘feminine’ careers from a young age. This is encouraged through stereotypes and the underlying current of sexism that still plagues our society. One of our studies found that girls were less likely to raise their hand to answer a math question if boys were in the room, even when they knew the answer.

Since we started doing STEM programming, we’ve seen success in our Girl Scouts in a number of ways. One of the most startling is when a girl admits she thought boys were just better at STEM-related activities until she was engaged in them herself. If you want to read more about that and other revelations, check out the full report.

Basically, at some point it became assumed that STEM wasn’t for girls. We’re trying to change that perception.

It goes beyond the STEM pipeline

While we strive for equality in the workforce, both in job selection and salary, it isn’t our sole reason for encouraging STEM in our girls. Most people remember that Girl Scouts is about building girls of courage, confidence, and character, but they may not know the crucial second half: who make the world a better place.

We know there are things in this world that can be improved. Through our journeys and badges, we help girls learn about taking care of the planet and conservation. We encourage them to be away of their impact and what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Simply put, we were a girl-led green movement before it became popular.

We know it’s not for every girl

We’re continuing to add STEM badges in areas like cybersecurity, but it doesn’t mean we think every girl needs to become an engineer or scientist. We just believe every girl has the right to choose exactly what she wants to do, and we want to increase her chances of success by exposing her to different fields.

Maybe your Girl Scout wants to be a park ranger. Or a stay at home mom. Or an accountant. Or a veterinarian. Or maybe even a princess. We’re here to support her no matter what, so your girl can have courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place in her own chosen way.