Think of how much the world has changed in your lifetime. Some of those changes are positive, like new technologies and medical advances. Others present urgent new challenges, such as cybercrime and the impacts of climate change. Most of those shifts have something in common: their answer lies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Yet, according to a new study from the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), even though STEM jobs have increased by 79% in the last three decades, women only comprise 34% of the STEM workforce, despite representing approximately half of the workforce overall.
With an urgent and growing need for STEM careers and solutions, how do we get more women at the table? One answer seems simple: get girls in Girl Scouts to inspire a lifetime of STEM learning. Since STEM is one of the four pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, many Girl Scouts will get to explore STEM activities that they might not have otherwise. That same GSRI report found that Girl Scouts who participate in even one STEM activity are more likely to be interested in STEM and want to pursue it in college or as a career.
Fortunately, Girl Scouts in our council explore STEM daily and prepare to be the next generation of STEM leaders. One excellent example is Girl Scout Troop #4816.
Also known as the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC)[i] Team 4816 Gadget Girls and Girl Scout Robotics Specialty Troop, this formidable team has been representing for ten years as the lone Girl Scout FRC team in the state! A 7th-12th-grade troop, they don’t just build robots. These Girl Scouts develop business skills working with sponsors and fundraising, enhance marketing skills through social media outlets, and explore art and graphic design by developing team imagery for the new competition season. They are passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion both in their troop and in their community outreach and service. Girl Scout Troop #4816 conducted robotic workshops with The Boys & Girls Club of Raleigh to inspire young girls to explore STEM opportunities. They also extend their reach to numerous area Girl Scouts through demonstrations at Technoquest, summer day camps, and badge workshops.
In October, the Gadget Girls participated in the Doyenne Inspiration, a unique competition that invites girls and non-binary students to compete. The competition is run by FIRST North Carolina and four FRC teams from across the state: FRC 5190 Green Hope Robotics, FRC 2642 Pitt Pirates, FRC 3737 Roto-Raptors, and FRC 4829 Titanium Tigers. Fifteen teams participated from across the state. In addition to being the only Girl Scout FRC team, Gadget Girls is one of only three all-girl teams in North Carolina. This representation is important as it gives unhindered opportunities for girls and non-binary students in STEM. The competition was an excellent opportunity for this community to stand together, learn from each other, and support one another. Go, Go, Gadget Girls!
As one Gadget Girl put it, “I discovered Robotics through Girl Scouts. This troop/team is a wonderful place for girls and others to be a part of a newfound family! It’s great for students who like to build, code, design, and more. It’s also great for anyone looking to test out the waters and who are looking for new skills. Big thanks to Girls Scouts for everything they have done!” -Georgia W.
We are so proud of Girl Scout Troop #4816 and all of our Girl Scouts for pursuing new interests and pushing boundaries! Check out the full GSRI study to learn more about Girl Scouts and STEM. Interested in learning more about FRC team 4816 and the Robotics Specialty Troop? Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] FIRST is a nonprofit with a progression of programs for children in grades K-12. There are many FIRST teams at all levels throughout the world. FIRST and Girls Scouts have formed a FIRST alliance to advocate for STEM awareness. You can learn more about FIRST at https://www.firstinspires.org/