Girl Scouts have been promoting 2012 as the Year of the Girl, but I wonder if the public truly knows that Girl Scouts are more than just cookies and camping. We are the premier leadership organization for girls in the United States.
When Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, she understood that dedicated and dynamic leaders were vital to helping girls develop their full potential. Unfortunately, our country is yet to see the full potential and leadership abilities’ that women and girls bring to the table.
According to the 2010 National Leadership Index, an annual nationwide survey by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and U.S. News & World Report, two-thirds of Americans think there is a leadership crisis in our country.
It’s all in the numbers, when only 15 percent of Fortune 500 corporate board positions are held by women and only 17 percent of members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are female, and when women make up half of the country’s population, the answer is crystal clear. There is an imbalance of leadership and we are not tapping into our nation’s most essential resource, our female human capital.
Studies have recently indicated that more women are graduating from college than men; however few of them are pursuing careers in the Sciences, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM).
The U.S. Department of Labor states that by the time today’s girls graduate from college, the United States will need three million more scientists and engineers. Girl Scouts have developed programs that motivate and inspire girls to pursue career paths in these areas and our local Girl Scout council has partnered with engineering firms and participating in local infrastructure projects such as the Miami Access Tunnel Project.
To inspire girls to lead is essential but in order to do this we need to help them see their own potential. Girls are growing up in a high-tech world that is constantly telling them that the only thing that matters is how they look, and the media encourages them to act provocatively. These media messages undermine a girl’s self-esteem and how they view themselves in society.
It is clear that there are many challenges facing our girls and their future — investing in them is the first step to mitigating some of these issues. Supporting your local Girl Scout council may help inspire a future CEO, politician, scientist, tech-entrepreneur, astronaut, ambassador and our country’s first female president.
Today, the future of girls is limitless and I invite our community to join Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida as we celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting and continue to fulfill our mission of developing tomorrow’s leaders with courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
Invest and inspire a girl today.
Irela Bagué is board chair of the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida, Inc.