Girls Scouts can earn new leadership badges — and they’re awesome and relevant.

Girls Scouts introduced 30 new badges to its lineup, giving girls a broad range of STEM and environmental goals to reach. According to the organization's website:

"The new programming will prepare girls to address some of society’s most pressing needs through hands-on learning in cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science, and space exploration."

Girl Scouts is partnering with industry leaders, such as Raytheon, Palo Alto Networks, and NASA to help launch the new programs.


Image via Girl Scouts of the USA.

That's good news for girls interested in science and technology — and great news for a society that needs more female representation in those fields.

Cybersecurity and mechanical engineering for kindergarteners? Yep.  

The new badges are split between two age groups: kindergarten to fifth grade, and sixth to 12th grade.

Badges for girls in kindergarten to fifth grade include cybersecurity and space science, introduced in age appropriate ways that encourage curiosity. Girl Scout Juniors — girls in fourth and fifth grade — can now earn badges in mechanical engineering for designing cranes, balloon-powered cars, and more as they learn about buoyancy, energy, machines, and jet propulsion.

For girls in grades sixth through 12th, badges can be earned in categories like robotics and environmental stewardship. Stewardship has been part of Girl Scouts since its founding in 1912, but the new environmental badge is designed to mobilize girls to be advocates who address problems, find solutions, and take leadership roles to protect the earth. Girls in 11th and 12th grade can earn badges in college knowledge as they prepare for the college admissions process, including navigating financial aid.

Image via Girl Scouts of the USA.

Older girls also have new STEM "Journeys" they can explore.

In addition to badges, Girls Scouts added new "Journeys" to its programming for grades six-12. In a Girl Scout Journey, a girl teams up with friends to identify a problem in the community or world, brainstorm solutions, make a team plan, put it into action, and share what she's learned from the process and what she'll do next.

These "Journeys" include the "Think Like a Programmer" program, which gives girls a foundation in solving problems through computational thinking and can help prepare girls for careers in cybersecurity, computer science, and robotics, and the "Think Like an Engineer" journey lets girls engage in hands-on design projects, teaching them how engineers think through problems and create solutions.

Image via Girl Scouts of the USA.

Encouraging girls in STEM fields and giving them real-world experience serves both individual girls and society at large.

Women have made big strides in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but they're still underrepresented in those fields. According to the National Science Foundation, women earn half of college degrees in the U.S., but only make up 29% of the science and engineering workforce. And that gap widens when you remove biological sciences from the equation.

For example, women make up:

  • 35.2% of chemists
  • 11.1% of physicists and astronomers
  • 33.8% of environmental engineers
  • 22.7% of chemical engineers
  • 17.5% of civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers
  • 17.1% of industrial engineers
  • 10.7% of electrical or computer hardware engineers
  • 7.9% of mechanical engineers

When fields are heavily dominated by one gender, stereotypes are reinforced, discrimination becomes easier, and we all lose out.

It's vital for girls who are interested in science and tech fields to have support and opportunity.

As Girls Scouts spokesperson Stewart Goodbody says, "Not only is it imperative that girls today are prepared to fill the STEM gap in the workforce, but we also know that girls’ passion for STEM increases when they see how it can help others and the world. Learning to use STEM to solve real-world problems is an unparalleled skill that will help Girl Scouts be the next generation of visionaries to solve countless environmental issues — as well as those in health, education, the economy, and more."

Goodbody points out that all Girl Scout programming is girl-led and designed around what girls have expressed interest in. This new programming will "push girls to be forward-thinking and equips them with skills that will help them become the innovative leaders of today and tomorrow."

Go, Girl Scouts, go.

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