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Girl Scouts Want to See More Women in STEM Careers

New STEM and outdoor badges enrich Girl Scout programming, which helps girls excel in life and ignites the power of every girl.

Published On: July 2017

This article by Kaya Yurieff was published by CNN Money.

The organization on Tuesday announced it is adding 23 new badges related to science, technology, engineering, math and the outdoors.

Girl Scouts can now earn badges through activities like programming robots, designing model race cars, writing code and going on environmentally conscious camping trips.

The Girl Scouts of the USA, founded in 1912, has created badges with the help of organizations like Code.org, SciStarter, GoldieBlox and the Society of Women Engineers.

Related: The Girl Scouts are adding a cybersecurity badge

The new experiences are meant to address “the lack of exposure many girls have to STEM,” Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo told CNN Tech in an email.

The new STEM badges come a month after the organization added cybersecurity badges. Those badges will be available to girls in kindergarten through 12th grade over the next two years.

Previously, Girl Scouts were able to earn tech-related badges such as for learning how to use a computer and designing a website.

Related: Meet the rocket scientist in charge of the Girl Scouts

In May, Acevedo — an entrepreneur and advocate for STEM education for girls — took over as permanent CEO of the Girl Scouts.

The Girls Scouts issued the following press release.

23 New STEM and Outdoor Badges Enrich Girl Scout Programming, Which Data Shows Helps Girls Excel in Life

With additional STEM and outdoor content for girls, available to troop leaders via a “digital assistant,” Girl Scouts makes it easier and more impactful to ignite the power of every girl

Acevedo, who became a Girl Scout when she was 7, was previously an engineer and worked for NASA’s jet propulsion lab. Later, she worked at IBM and Dell before creating and selling a business software startup.

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today releases new badges in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the outdoors, areas girls are not typically encouraged to explore outside of Girl Scouting. The badges will debut on the organization’s first digital platform for volunteers, making it more accessible than ever to unleash the power of every girl.

At a time when 81 percent of American voters think preparing girls for leadership roles should be a national priority, GSUSA—the preeminent leadership development organization for girls—offers girls even more opportunities to learn skills and empower themselves with the experiences they need to succeed in life. And as the Girl Scout Research Institute releases new findings that confirm the outstanding leadership outcomes that Girl Scouts exhibit compared to their non–Girl Scout peers, there has never been a better time to join.

New Programming in STEM and the Outdoors
Through hands-on and age-appropriate experiences for girls as young as five, Girl Scouts is both enhancing the important outdoor opportunities the organization is known for and addressing the lack of exposure many girls have to STEM. In fact, Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non–Girl Scouts to participate in STEM (60 percent versus 35 percent) and outdoor activities (76 percent versus 43 percent). With the introduction of 23 new badges, which marks the largest programming rollout in almost a decade, Girl Scouts can create algorithms, design robots and racecars, go on environmentally conscious camping trips, collect data in the great outdoors, try their hand at engineering, and so much more. GSUSA created programming that included contributions from many notable organizations. Collaborators include the STEM-focused Code.orgGoldieBloxSciStarterSociety of Women Engineers, and WGBH/Design Squad Global, as well as the outdoor-focused Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

The new Girl Scout programming builds girls’ skills and encourages their interest in STEM and environmental conservation from an early age, increasing their confidence in these areas—in an all-girl environment where they feel comfortable trying new things, taking appropriate risks, and learning from failure. For more information about the new badges, visit www.girlscouts.org/ourprogram.

Girl Scouts Excel in Important Aspects of Life
A new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, The Girl Scout Impact Study, shows that participating in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life. Compared to their peers, Girl Scouts are more likely than non–Girl Scouts to be leaders because they:

  • Have confidence in themselves and their abilities (80% vs. 68%)
  • Act ethically and responsibly, and show concern for others (75% vs. 59%)
  • Seek challenges and learn from setbacks (62% vs. 42%)
  • Develop and maintain healthy relationships (60% vs. 43%)
  • Identify and solve problems in their communities (57% vs. 28%)
  • Take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%)

Importantly, what girls gain through Girl Scouting positively affects all areas of their lives. For example, Girl Scouts do better than their non–Girl Scout peers in the classroom, earning better grades and aspiring to higher educational attainment, and are more likely to seek careers in STEM, law, and business—industries in which women are underrepresented. And the benefits of Girl Scouting are not exclusive to any particular demographic, which means that no matter where girls live or what their age or background, Girl Scouts can help them develop to their full potential and excel in all aspects of life.

Digitizing the Volunteer Experience
The new Girl Scout program elements are now available to more members than ever before via the recently expanded Volunteer Toolkit, Girl Scouts’ first “digital assistant” for troop leaders and parents, allowing them to more easily plan meetings and activities, keep track of important information, and, ultimately, make it easier to support amazing experiences for girls. In the toolkit, most Girl Scout programming for girls in grades K–5 is auto-populated so that troop leaders can view activity plans and necessary materials, customize meeting plans, track troop finances, and more, all in one place. Further, the instructions that are included throughout make subjects that might otherwise intimidate some volunteers—like STEM—accessible and understandable, so that they can confidently lead troop activities.

“At Girl Scouts, we believe there is a wellspring of passion, determination, and courage residing within every girl―and our organization offers a nurturing environment where she can develop skills to unleash her potential,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “Data shows Girl Scouts excel in life because of our innovative programming, so we’ve expanded our offerings to include even more engaging, fun, and impactful activities for girls of all ages—including Daisies as young as five years old. We’ve also simplified the process for volunteers through our online Volunteer Toolkit. Simply put, Girl Scouts is on the cusp of a leadership renaissance for girls, and we’re always looking for more go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders to enhance our ranks. Join now for a lifetime of opportunities that champion the power of every girl.”

Through Girl Scouting, girls learn to face challenges head-on, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, create lasting relationships, and find dynamic solutions to social issues—all while building the skills and courage they need to take the lead every day and empower themselves for life. To join or volunteer, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.

We’re Girl Scouts of the USA
We’re 2.6 million strong—1.8 million girls and 800,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. Our extraordinary journey began more than 100 years ago with the original G.I.R.L., Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, she organized the very first Girl Scout troop, and every year since, we’ve honored her vision and legacy, building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We’re the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. And with programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit www.girlscouts.org.

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