Girl Scouts has released a brand new series of badges designed to encourage ambitious leadership in areas like automotive engineering, STEM career exploration, entrepreneurship, and civics. Training girls to cultivate confidence and develop decision-making skills at an early age, Girls Scouts is building tomorrow’s leaders today – one inspiring badge at a time.
Why these badges and why now?
“In this time of rapid change, leadership matters,” says Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “Girl Scouts’ new programming in the key areas of civics, STEM, and entrepreneurship ensures that they can be the creators, makers, and leaders we so need right now. Girls are craving the tools and information they can use to make the world a better place, and that’s what these new badge experiences are all about.”
“As the largest girl leadership development organization in the country,” she emphasizes, “we are showing girls the power they have to make an impact and create the change they want to see—from the classroom to the boardroom to elected offices across the nation.”
We are thrilled. But not surprised.
Since their earliest days, Girl Scouts have been at the forefront of raising strong leaders. Think about former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright and Condoleeza Rice. Think about athletes like Venus and Serena Williams. Consider that 69 percent of female U.S. senators, 57 percent of female U.S. representatives and delegates, and the majority of NASA female astronauts are all Girl Scout alums.
Put simply, Girl Scouts produces power. Even amid a pandemic, Girl Scouts has risen to the COVID challenge, empowering girls to engage from home. Releasing free, self-guided activities at the start of the pandemic through Girl Scouts at Home™, Girl Scouts has been keeping girls active and connected to their communities.
And it just got better.
With a brand new slate of badges, augmented by online videos, activities and live virtual events, Girl Scouts is ensuring that social distance does not mean disengagement. Rather, it brings fresh opportunities to explore, design and lead a better future.
Want specifics? Their new badges include:
STEM Career Exploration, where girls in grades 2-8 can explore STEM fields like computer science, nature/environmental science, engineering, design, health, and agriculture – and then connect those interests to authentic female role models. Funded by IF/THEN, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, and created alongside their free, downloadable library of real-life women in STEM, the STEM Career Exploration badges offer girls role models at early and important ages.
Automotive Engineering, providing girls in grades K-5 the chance to learn about how vehicles are designed, engineered and manufactured. Given that only 13 percent of engineers are women, these badges, funded by General Motors, introduce girls to the field with an eye towards closing the gender gap in engineering.
Civics, equipping girls in grades K–12 to become informed activists, voters, and, perhaps someday, political leaders. Researching lawmaking, the Electoral College, and statistics about women’s role in government, girls will also learn more about their own state and local government officials. Responding to data that only 24 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in civics, these badges, funded by the Citi Foundation, seek to inform and engage young female voices from day one.
Entrepreneurship, helping girls in grades K–12 develop an entrepreneurial mindset by creating innovative products and services that solve problems. Girl Scouts reports that three in four of today’s girls say they are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but more than half claim they need more support in this area. Funded by Susan Bulkeley Butler and designed in collaboration with VentureLab, these badges aim to fill that deficit through exposure to production, marketing and competition.
How are Girl Scouts responding?
Even in the pilot testing phase, new badges were met with unbridled enthusiasm. When asked about her experience testing the Entrepreneur Accelerator badge, a new Entrepreneurship badge for Girl Scout Ambassadors in 11th-12th grades, 16 year-old Marie from of Central Texas told us:
“My favorite thing about pilot testing the Entrepreneurship badge was being able to pull experiences together from my Girl Scout Cookie sales into a real business. Meeting a variety of female business owners and finding out how old they were when they started and why they started their business was one of my favorite activities that occurred during every session.
After doing a market research activity, I realized that my interest in podcasts was something that more and more businesses were producing. However, small businesses didn’t have the time to learn and edit their own podcasts. I created a pitch piece that I then ‘pitched’ to our marketing guest speaker who thought it was great. She assisted me in making connections and writing the copy for the website. Currently I have four regular clients and others that I do an episode for here or there. This badge was more than just learning about starting a business – it gives us the ability to think and to feel more confident about our ideas.”
The ability to think and feel more confident about our ideas.
This is likely what Juliette Gordon Low imagined when she organized the very first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia on March 12, 1912. No doubt this is what the 1.7 million girls and 750,000 adults currently involved with Girl Scouts say when asked how the organization inspires them in changing times. We may be socially distancing right now, but with new fields to explore, new role models to meet and new friends to make, Girl Scouts continues to build strong and ambitious leaders – badge by inspiring badge.
To join, volunteer or learn more about the new Girl Scout badge series, visit Girlscouts.org. Être is grateful to Girl Scouts USA for speaking with us and for inspiring girls everywhere to lead.