National Girl Scout Week runs Sunday, March 12th through Saturday, March 18th. As this iconic institution celebrates its 105th year, the events of 2017 provide an excellent opportunity to take a look at the work that Girl Scouts do to empower women and prepare them for entrepreneurship, STEAM careers and more!
On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the first Girl Scout troop with 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia. Her goal was to provide a place for these girls to find friendship, empowerment, and leadership. Today, Girl Scouts of all ages blaze new paths and try new things, showing what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader). More than 59 million women in America today have found a place in Girl Scouts during their childhood and there are currently 2.7 million girl and adult members worldwide. Taking a look at how this organization has inspired women leaders who work STEAM fields, as well as entrepreneurs, politicians, media, film and TV stars, and athletes present some staggering statistics.
With an increased focus on STEAM fields of study, Girl Scouts are introduced to experiences that show them they can do anything in careers that allow them to be creative, active, and well-paid while changing the world for the better. Girls learn about a variety of interests from how a car engine works, to managing finances, to extracting DNA from a banana. They are exposed to many different fields of study that some girls may assume are off-limits or not interesting. As this focus continues to expand (encouraging girls to be anything they want to be) companies such as FORD are helping out by presenting programs like the Girls Fast Track Races, which exposes Girl Scouts to the thrill of car racing. Did you know that virtually every female astronaut who has flown in space has been a Girl Scout?
It might be difficult to see the link between Girl Scout Cookies and entrepreneurship, but the cookie program is the largest girl-led business in the world. Annually they sell over 200 million boxes of cookies, earning over $800 million dollars. Even more than dollars, though, the Girl Scout who sells you these cookies is developing confidence, learning to set goals, manage money, and study business ethics. The digital platform for sales that launched in 2014, allowed girls to market and sell cookies online or through a digital app. As this piece developed, girls are able to customize their websites and collect data related to their cookie sales. If you are wondering if these skills translate into real-life skills as adults, take note that Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube and Virginia Rometti, the CEO of IBM are both former Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts learn about leadership and civic responsibilities throughout the course of their experiences with the program. They take opportunities to connect with leaders in their communities, promote legislative agendas and spend time volunteering. Diversity and acceptance are encouraged as they interact with and learn about people of different races, nationalities, and faiths. Fifteen of our 20 current female Senators and half of the 88 women who serve in the U.S. House of Representatives were Girl Scouts. Attorney and former First Lady Michelle Obama was a Girl Scout, as was former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and retired Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.
Of course, leaders show up in other places too. Star athletes Venus and Serena Williams are Girl Scout alums. As were Taylor Swift, Dakota Fanning, Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters, and Katie Couric. Our recent losses of Carrie Fisher, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and Mary Tyler Moore saw the passing of two other well-known Girl Scout alums. The list goes on and on.
In 2012, Geri Stengel wrote in Forbes about Girl Scouts growing a pipeline of leaders and then Girl Scout CEO, Anna Marie Chavez’ goal of closing the leadership gap between men and women. Today, as we continue to focus on women’s rights and the growing role of women in our country and around the world, we can promote and embrace all that Girl Scouts do for our daughters and women.