For 100 years, the Girl Scouts of the USA has helped girls develop skills that will help them succeed in life.
“Girl Scouts’ rich history of building girls of courage, confidence and character, girls who make the world a better place, makes Girl Scouting the premiere leadership development program for girls in the country,” said Judy Gallagher, director of communications and marketing for Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, the local Girl Scout branch office headquartered in Cicero. “Girls learn by doing, working cooperatively with others and leading the activities they participate in.”
Now, as the organization moves toward its next chapter, the Girl Scouts of the USA seeks to further expand those leadership skills with its new ToGetHerThere initiative.
The program was developed after a new Girl Scouts of the USA study, commissioned in partnership with GfK Roper, found that, while girls are generally optimistic about their futures, they still see glass ceilings in today’s society that could interfere with achieving their leadership potential. The study, based on a telephone survey of 1,000 girls ages 8 to 17, found, for example, that close to three in five girls think that a woman can rise up in a company but will only rarely be put in a senior leadership role. Additionally, more than one-third of girls say they wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to be a leader, and almost 40 percent are not sure they’re cut out to be a leader.
In order to help girls overcome those doubts, the Girl Scouts launched ToGetHerThere, which Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez called “the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause dedicated to girls’ leadership in the nation’s history.” The multiyear seeks to create balanced leadership — the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society — within a single generation. The $1 billion philanthropic campaign for girls will fuel this effort and fund opportunities that enable girls to lead. Ninety percent of funds raised will go directly to services and programs for girls across the nation and in 94 countries globally to help fill critical talent gaps in finance, science, technology, environmental, and global leadership arenas.
This initiative has the potential to finally close the centuries-old gender gap and shatter that proverbial glass ceiling. ToGetHerThere provides girls with a healthy environment and a strong support system in which they can confidently develop the skills they’ll need to become leaders, including role models in high-paying fields, funding for girls’ programs and support for girls who speak out in the classroom and beyond. The program has the capacity to help finally break the stereotype that little girls — and ultimately women — should be seen and not heard.
If anyone can do it, the Girl Scouts can.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.