For more than 100 years, the Girl Scouts of the USA has aimed to inspire girls to learn an array of life skills, from crafting and camping to community service, and, more recently, computer science. Earlier this year, the organisation launched an initiative to enhance Scouts' interest in STEM called the Girl Scout STEM Pledge, which intends to raise $70 million and get 2.5 million girls involved in STEM industries by 2025.
Part of their work has been getting girls who are already Scouts more familiar with the field, through earning new badges in areas such as cybersecurity and space science. They also want to expose non-Scouts to STEM by creating a pipeline of interest and talent starting at a young age.
On December 4, 2017 — during Computer Science Education Week — the Girl Scouts announced a partnership with Raytheon, a cybersecurity company and defense contractor, to develop new computer science programming and a cyber challenge for middle and high-school girls. They also held a photoshoot in which five current Scouts dressed up as STEM heroes of the past and present.
"We took into account the importance of exposing girls to STEM icons they could not only admire, but also relate to," a representative from the Girl Scouts told Refinery29. "Studies indicate that a girl’s interest in STEM-related fields develops at a young age — but when asked, very few envisioned a STEM job in their future. Casting a spotlight on powerful role models within the STEM arena offers girls a vision of what is possible, and can steer her career trajectory at any age."
Read on to see the women who were highlighted, and the Scouts who helped tell their empowering stories.