Girl Scouts add new badges for exploring civics, starting businesses and launching STEM careers

WALTHAM, Mass. — When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the economy, millions more women lost their jobs compared to men, in part because of the types of jobs women have.

“The service industry is really driven by women and that’s what’s been highly impacted in terms of the employment situation, certainly in the Boston area,” said Elaine Varelas, a human resource consultant at Keystone Partners in Boston.

But the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEMA) is hoping to change that.

“We’re offering girls the foundation to explore their interest outside of gendered expectations,” said Caitrίona Taylor, CEO of GSEMA.

The organization has created 24 new badges that will teach young girls how to design cars, plan a STEM career path, run for public office or start their own business.

“If you look at these badges they’re in areas that have long been male-dominated and so we’re really preparing girls to close that gender gap,” said Taylor. “Only 13% of engineers are actually female, and that’s according to the Society of Women Engineers. So we’re really excited to say there’s a field that’s already pretty male-dominated, how can we get girls excited at a young age.”

Taylor says they have girls that want to be entrepreneurs, but not all of them felt like they had the support to do so, until now.

These badges are offered at all age levels, and progress as the Scouts move through the program.

“If you think about a Daisy - that’s a 5-year old in Kindergarten - we actually have a badge that is Toy Business Designer. They say ‘I want to build a toy’ and they go through and they’ll actually design a toy and pitch it to their family and friends,” said Taylor.

GSEMA has made free self-guided activities from select new and existing programming available online 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 badge events that GSEMA will be hosting throughout the new troop year.

The Girl Scout Research Institute has found that if girls understand how they can change the world through STEM they get really excited about it. These new badges will allow Girl Scouts to see their visions turn into reality.

“Today’s world presents more challenges and opportunities than ever for girls, from navigating the pandemic to joining major social justice movements,” said Taylor. “Girl Scouts challenges young women and girls to discover and harness their power to advocate for themselves and others, pursue their dreams, and step into roles of leadership. These new badge experiences in automotive engineering, STEM, entrepreneurship, and civics are the latest tools with which Girl Scouts will become the changemakers we need today and for the future.”

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