Girl Scouts has been empowering girls across the country for more than 100 years and has served more than 50 million women. I’m proud that Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee is one of the fastest growing councils in the nation, serving 14,800 girls across 39 counties last year. We provide every girl with a chance to lead, a chance to take risks, and a chance to create positive change.
While Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee continues to serve more girls each year with an enriched experience, Boy Scouts of America is pursuing a new experiment: including girls in the full range of its programs for the first time ever. The organization is recruiting girls for Cub Scouts and even allowing girls to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Boy Scouts is also now using the name “Scouts” to represent itself to the public.
This has led to some confusion. And with this confusion, many parents are now wondering: what is the right choice for my daughter? To those parents, I urge them to consider the difference between an experience and an experiment.
We know that girls thrive in a single gender environment where they feel confident to speak up and ask questions. Girl Scouting was built on that foundation and everything we do is tailored specifically to meet girls’ needs.
We also know that this approach works. Research shows that Girl Scouts are more likely than their non-Girl Scout peers to have confidence in themselves, seek challenges, identify and solve problems in their communities, and develop and maintain healthy relationships. These qualities impact every area of life.
Our track record speaks for itself. Girl Scout alums lead in all fields, from business to law to government to education to sports. Seventy-three percent of the current female United States Senators were Girl Scouts, as were 52 percent of our female business leaders.
Girl Scouts even changed my own life when, at seven years old, I met a black female doctor for the first time. I had never known that an African-American woman could be a physician. From that moment on, I knew I could become whatever I wanted to be. And I have.
My experience was not happenstance. It was by design. I hear similar stories every day, experiences that were only possible because of the unique philosophy and programming delivered through Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouting came into being to inspire girls like me, and it remains critically relevant in our world today where women still face lower wages, restricted opportunities, and diminished expectations.
Girl Scouts provides an environment for girls to learn and grow without judgment. It teaches girls how to embrace their strongest attributes and use them. Empowering the next generation of female leaders is critical to our country’s future, and Girls Scouts are the experts.
Parents and their daughters will determine whether the Boy Scouts’ experiment succeeds. But we have already proven that Girl Scouts is best for girls.
Agenia Clark is President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee.