Letter: Girl scouts looking to finally smash old attitudes

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I have volunteered for many different organizations — from a Junior Women’s Club to the board of the PTA — but the volunteerism that has given me the most satisfaction and joy has been, hands down, becoming a leader for a local Girl Scout troop.

Initially, I jumped in for the sole sake of my now-8-year-old daughter, who was “desperate” to get into a Daisy troop in her kindergarten year. I painstakingly took the trainings, found a co-leader, rounded up 10 girls from the list of those waiting for a troop and, a bit nervously, dove in.

My first impression was to be impressed by the careful thought Girl Scouts of the USA put into the development of its leadership principles and the principles it strives to instill in our girls. As a leader, it became my job to embody these principles in all that we do. The Girl Scout Law states, “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

At first glance, this may seem an insurmountable goal, yet I have seen proof that with years of dedication and careful tending, it is indeed achievable. Our local scouting community continues to guide and support girls from the youngest of Daisies all the way through to Ambassadors who earn Gold Awards, the highest achievement available in scouting.

This year is the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary. GSUSA has proclaimed 2012 as The Year of the Girl. Their national campaign is called “ToGetHerThere” and embraces a multiyear effort seeking to create balanced leadership — the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society — within one generation.

The roots for this campaign were derived from research commissioned by the Girl Scouts in partnership with GFK Roper to determine what girls think about women in leadership roles. The research showed that, while girls are generally optimistic about their futures, they still see “glass ceilings” in today’s society. Almost 3 out of 5 girls felt that a woman can rise up in a company but will rarely achieve a senior leadership role. More than one-third said they would not be comfortable trying to be a leader. Of the girls who were absolutely certain they would want to lead, 59 percent said it was easier to be a follower than to stand out as a leader.

And 81 percent of the girls believe the workplace could do a better job of meeting the needs of female employees. A majority also believe family responsibilities weigh women down more than men as they attempt to advance in their careers.

We need to change that. As I go into my fourth year of leading, I need to change that. You need to change that. “ToGetHerThere” is a bold step in the right direction.

Red Hook parents of Mill Road School students can come to a Girl Scouts introduction meeting at the school on the 3-5 side on Thurs. Sept. 13 from 6:30 to 8pm. Email jdk@munn.com if you are unable to attend or live in a different school district.

For more on this year’s national campaign, visit www.ToGetHerThere.org.

Jennifer Munn
Red Hook

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