The Girl Scouts have introduced badges that can be earned which award young girls once they have mastered or learned a new skill in a STEM field. The new initiative looks to introduce these STEM subjects to young women in hopes of increasing participation in STEM fields previously dominated solely by men.
The new badges have been introduced for girls in kindergarten through fifth grade, allowing them to master these topics in hopes of increasing women’s presence in science, technology, engineering, and math roles.
This initiative puts the Girl Scouts among a growing number of organizations, companies and schools that are working to help increase female presence in science, technology, engineering and math. Several new badges also provide a focus on robotics, mechanical engineering, computer science and space science.
Recently, about two dozen Girl Scouts participated in a workshop at Northern Trust in Chicago’s Loop. During this time, they turned their attention to a key printed on a piece of paper telling them which sequence of boxes to draw next; they were using this process to learn to write their initials in binary code.
“It’s called a byte, and it’s computer language,” said Maggie, a 10-year-old girl scout. “It’s how the computer interprets what we type.”
“The STEM badges will introduce Girl Scouts to jobs outside of stereotypical science roles”, said Candice Schaefer, senior director of program and adult development with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. “Girls are still picturing women in laboratories,” she said. “We’re hoping to open up a lot of career exploration for girls and show them women that are in these fields so they can visualize themselves there.”