By: Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas
A staple of being a Girl Scout is knowing girls can do anything. For more than 100 years, girls have changed their communities, whether it’s building a robotic arm or a library to help bilingual students. The guidance, training and encouragement provided by Girl Scouts instills the character, courage and confidence needed to change the world.
While Girl Scouts here in Northeast Texas are given the support they need to succeed, balancing that support throughout the rest of our society is critical to sustaining their interest. Investing in girls is necessary for investing in the future of our country. Gender-balanced leadership – from the boardroom to government – will help America maintain a competitive edge in today’s driven society.
Despite knowing this, America has traditionally failed to invest in girls to the extent that they deserve. A mere 10 cents of every philanthropic dollar is spent on girls, and societal pressures deter girls from entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The insight, ideas and potential of future women leaders are lost if we don’t collectively encourage the growth of girls in these areas.
Why Girl Scouts is needed
The Girl Scout Research Institute recently released a study showing 74 percent of girls learn more by doing activities, rather than be told information. Also, a majority of girls agree that Girl Scout adult volunteers listen to what girls say more than other adults, making them feel valued. Girls see Girl Scouts as an outlet to learn and experience more during high school to expose them to potential career paths.
Thankfully, Girl Scouts are not alone in this mindset, but have American voters on their side. In a recent pulse poll released by the Research Institute, the vast majority of voters agree that investing in educating girls is a key to the country’s advancement. Additionally, respondents value the support of girls’ leadership development, as well as exposure and preparation for financial literacy, STEM and business concepts. Business, science, finance, and other traditionally male dominant fields are viewed by 82 percent of voters as needing more female involvement in the future
How does Girl Scouts help?
The goal of Girl Scouts is to develop young girls and set them up for success in the future. Girl Scout troops bolster the learning and growth gained in classrooms by fostering a safe environment for girls to experiment and apply themselves, as well as fail and try again. We believe that the best results are achieved when girls start young and receive a tailored Girl Scouts experience to best bolster the gains made at school. Every aspect of Girl Scouts programming is geared to best cater to the needs of girls today – from inclusive, girl-led activities to an all-female environment.
Northeast Texas is constantly growing, particularly in STEM related fields, making our future dependent on having a proper workforce in place moving forward. This idea inspired the development of a $13 million STEM Center of Excellence, which serves as a living laboratory for girls to participate in hands-on experiments and activities that directly expose them to STEM education and career opportunities. With a 98-acre campus, girls in K-12 are introduced to the best of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience combined with the best STEM expertise our community has to offer.
Any time you see a courageous, determined, effective female leader, she is likely one of the 59 million living alumnae of Girl Scouts. Out-of-school programs are imperative to helping girls maintain and grow their interest and achievements in STEM and other fields, according to 90 percent of Americans, demonstrating that the public supports the Girl Scouts mission. The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas is always looking for community members to help inspire and grow our future female leaders as volunteers, investors and advocates. Contact us at www.gsnetx.org to learn more ways to get involved today.
About Jennifer Bartkowski
Jennifer Bartkowski serves as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. Bartkowski has been with GSNETX since 2009, when she joined the council as Chief Development Officer. During her tenure, GSNETX has seen significant growth in its annual and capital fundraising campaigns.