01 Sep Will Brownies be our future tech queens?
Collecting badges was as exciting as collecting insta likes.
For the first time in a while I’m wishing that I was ten again. Most of the time I enjoy my young adult life but more recently I’ve been reconsidering my hobbies.What can I enjoy for free? And possibly make a little pocket money from at the same time? I know that some bloggers get fantastic perks – free clothes, free meals out at restaurants, and even all expenses paid trips if they become Zoella-level famous.
I have a confession to make though. I’m not highly skilled at HTML coding, a talent which is useful to have if you’re a blogger.
Last month the news broke that the Girl Scouts of the USA have rolled out badges in Robotics, Engineering and other Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM) subjects. At home I have a sash from my days as a Brownie. I was one of the Elves and my first badges included a broom (House Orderly), a tea cup (Hostess) and a spider web (Craft). I greatly appreciate how these skills have helped me in my young adult life but I seriously doubt whether the Boy Scouts were told it was crucial that they learn how to make a sandwich.
Today’s Girl Scouts will be encouraged to develop their skills in areas such as cyber security which have traditionally been perceived as male-dominated. Our 2015 blog ‘The STEM of gender bias’ examined how toys are colour-coded so as to differentiate between the boys and the girls. It’s about time that belief systems were disrupted – encouraging girls as young as five to understand concepts such as cyber security will help lead the way.
According to Assistant Professor Vanessa LoBlue, young children’s initial concepts about gender are flexible. It is only when children reach the age of around five that concepts around gender begin to be developed. Children then begin to actively seek out gender-related information. Faced with a world which encourages girls to play with dolls and guys to play with trucks, it’s no wonder that many girls grow up to believe that they’re not suitable for jobs in IT, or in mechanics or engineering.
Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg knows a thing or two about what it takes for a woman not only to become a C-level member of staff but to compete with the male candidates for a job at one of the world’s most valuable tech companies, Facebook. Rated by Forbes magazine as number 10 in the world’s biggest tech companies, Sheryl worked hard to get where many women wouldn’t even dare to dream, but she wasn’t without her insecurities in the process.
Reading economics at Harvard, Sheryl Sandberg explains to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs that she struggled with self-doubt. “We know that women more than men suffer with the imposter syndrome and systematically underestimate their own performance. Every test I thought I was going to fail. When I did well I thought I had fooled them.”
Initiatives like those of the Girls Scouts where young girls can now receive badges for developing programming, coding and cyber security skills will hopefully encourage more young girls to consider themselves capable of leadership roles in large technology companies such as Facebook. Women are largely underrepresented in these fields, an issue that I believe will change as more and more young girls are introduced to these subjects from a young age.
Girl Scouts, I salute you. I only wish that I could join. Is 26 too old?
Image 1 Credit: Finished my #Brownie & #GirlGuide badge quilt! Juststarting leader training with @girlguidinguk too… by Sarah Joy
Image 2 Credit: Brownie and Cub compare badges by Girl Guides of Canada