NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Girl Scouts Louisiana East and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today announced 24 new badges designed to help girls practice ambitious leadership in the crucial areas of automotive engineering, STEM career exploration, entrepreneurship, and civics, many of which remain male-dominated. In a year of unprecedented global change, our country’s need for strong, broad-minded, and decisive leadership has never been greater. Through new and existing programming, Girl Scouts equips the next generation of female change-makers with the breadth of knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to take charge and do good for the world, both now and in the future.
The new Girl Scout badges include:
- Entrepreneurship (grades K–12). Girls develop an entrepreneurial mindset as they engage in age-appropriate exercises that help them create and pitch a product or service that solves a problem. They build their own business plan and think about topics like production, cost, profit, marketing, and competition. Three in four of today’s girls are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but more than half also say they need more support in this area; these badges are designed to fill the gap. Funded by Susan Bulkeley Butler and designed in collaboration with VentureLab.
- STEM Career Exploration (grades 2–8). Girls explore their career interests and connect them to STEM fields – particularly computer science, nature/environmental science, engineering, design, health, and agriculture – that can help them address the pressing issues of our time and change the world. The IF/THEN Collection, a free, downloadable digital asset library of real-life women in STEM, is an integral component of the badges. The dearth of women in STEM fields is well documented, but data shows that girls are more interested in a STEM career when they learn how they can use it to help people, demonstrating the value of Girl Scouts’ unique approach. Funded by IF/THEN, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
- Automotive Engineering (grades K–5). Girls learn about designing, engineering, and manufacturing vehicles, as well as the future of mobility. They design their own vehicles, test prototypes, learn about design thinking, create their own assembly line manufacturing process, and more. Only 13 percent of engineers are women, underscoring the need for these badges which will introduce more girls to the field. Funded by General Motors.
- Civics (grades K–12). Girls gain an in-depth understanding of how local, state, and federal government works, preparing them to be voters, activists, and even political leaders. They research laws and how they’re created, voting, and the electoral college, the representation of women in government, and more. They also research their own government officials and are encouraged to meet them. Just 24 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in civics, and only two in five American adults can name the three branches of U.S. government, highlighting the need for these badges. Funded by the Citi Foundation.
Steady leadership is essential during a crisis such as COVID-19, from fostering trust and showing compassion, to managing challenges with agility, to evaluating outcomes of decisions. The Girl Scout program is proven to develop strong and effective leaders—among many positive outcomes, Girl Scouts are much likelier than non-Girl Scouts to take an active role in decision making (80 percent vs. 51 percent), which is a critical aspect of leadership.
“As soon as Girl Scouts in southeastern Louisiana heard the news of the pandemic, they took action collecting food for food banks, donating cookies to healthcare workers, and sewing masks for first responders,” says Rebecca Pennington, CEO of Girl Scouts Louisiana East, “Girl Scouts equips girls with the leadership skills, entrepreneurial minds, and self-confidence to tackle any challenge they are faced with, including a national pandemic.”
“Now more than ever, it’s critical that we have strong leaders who can make informed decisions that make the world a better, safer place,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “During our current health crisis, the world leaders who have been among the most decisive and effective in addressing the pandemic have been women. With these new badge experiences in STEM, entrepreneurship, and the critically important subject of civics, Girl Scouts is continuing to build the transformational female leaders of today and the future and showing girls the power they have to truly change the world.”
Girl Scouts has made free self-guided activities from select new and existing programming available digitally to the public through Girl Scouts at Home, keeping families engaged and connected to their communities. Girls can further engage with the badges and topics through online videos, activities, or special live virtual events. Members can access a suite of Girl Scouts’ programming digitally through the Volunteer Toolkit, including troop meeting plans and other resources to help girls earn badges and awards.
In addition, beginning this summer, all councils will also have the opportunity to host their own Girl Scout Cyber Challenge sponsored by Raytheon Technologies, enabling middle and high school girls to learn crucial cybersecurity skills as they compete in challenges such as running traceroutes and identifying phishing schemes. The Cyber Challenge prepares girls to pursue careers in computer science and cybersecurity.
To join or volunteer, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.