In South Florida, Girl Scouts nurturing risk-takers, innovators and problem solvers | Opinion

Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida seeks to nurture girls into the leaders who will find solutions to global challenges.
Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida seeks to nurture girls into the leaders who will find solutions to global challenges. www.girlscoutsfl.org

In the next decade, more than 1 million new STEM professionals will be needed to fill the job pipeline. We also we face a gender gap among STEM professionals. Women make up 47 percent of the overall workforce but represent only 28 percent of jobs in STEM.

As South Florida positions itself as an innovation and STEM hub, these statistics are alarming. Take into consideration the need for professionals in STEM fields that address our most pressing environmental concern — sea level rise — and the crisis hits close to home.

Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida recognizes our unique position as an organization with the power to prepare girls to become women who will lead the charge in tackling global issues.

The United States has always had a competitive advantage that cannot be mass-produced — innovation. Innovation sets us apart in an increasingly global economy. And through Girl Scouts’ all-girl, girl-led environment, girls build skills in problem-solving, risk-taking and innovating.

Women bring an invaluable perspective to the courtroom, the classroom and the laboratory. Gender balance in the workplace and the public sphere is vital to ensuring that all voices are heard and diverse viewpoints are considered. If you want proof, check out the performance of male-dominated corporate boards compared to boards with a greater gender mix.

This is precisely why Girl Scouts launched our STEM Pledge — to fuel the STEM pipeline with 2.5 million girls by 2025. We are doing this by delivering meaningful experiences based on best practice curriculum of 87 badges and 24 journeys in cybersecurity, coding, robotics, mechanical engineering, app development and more.

For South Florida, the need is clear: To build a resilient workforce pipeline of capable, prepared and gender-balanced STEM professionals with the skills required to face the challenges of sea level rise, resiliency, water resources, infrastructure, adaptation, and more.

Providing examples of women’s leadership in STEM and working with organizations like Bagué Group, that for two decades have been advocates for water resources, Everglades restoration, sustainability, storm resilience and sea-level rise, exposes girls to careers and mentors in environmental stewardship. The GSTF is introducing girls to scientists, astronauts, engineers and mathematicians and providing them with the opportunity to see themselves as future advocates, entrepreneurs and leaders in these critical fields.

Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida is hosting the inaugural Lifetime of Leadership Luncheon, on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at The Rusty Pelican. The event will honor the professional accomplishments and community impact of local women and men who inspire us to make the world a better place. For more information and tickets, visit: www.girlscoutsfl.org/luncheon_tickets

Today’s girls are digital natives and natural organizers and collaborators. They not only are solution-focused, they are America’s secret weapon for charting our future.

Chelsea Wilkerson is CEO of Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida. Irela Bagué is CEO of Bagué Group, a former GSTF board chair and a recipient of the Trailblazer Award.

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