When I was younger, I experienced the Girl Scouts program like many girls have. I made it to the “Juniors” level before retiring my cookie-selling skills. I learned a lot through the program and had a few fun summers at camp. But I also remember begging my way out of the sewing activity, because after many failed attempts at it, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to learn or what I was good at.
Now, the Girl Scouts are adding new activities and development paths to their programs, creating incredible opportunities for girls with desires and skills of all types. There are four focus areas that form the foundation of the overall program and the Girl Scouts Leadership Experience: STEM, Outdoors, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship.
I got to experience this entrepreneurship focus firsthand helping out as Facilitator at the first Startup Weekend with the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles earlier this year. This event in Los Angeles had 26 girls come together over a weekend to build companies. The girls formed six teams to work on products in all types of industries, work with mentors, and pitch to judges at the end.
When I told people about Startup Weekend joining forces with the Girl Scouts for this event, everyone had the same reaction: It makes so much sense. What other group is able to sell cookies to anyone, anywhere? To have a country waiting and counting down to when their product is available? The hustle of selling all those boxes, tracking orders, working with others, and delivering to customers is essential block building for a future in entrepreneurship.
By the end of the Startup Weekend event in Los Angeles, the judges were floored with the progress the girls had made. They perfected the pitches, worked strongly together as teams, and some even had app mock-ups with branding, logo color guides, and more (thanks to local sponsor Marvel App!) They understood the need for having a real, paying customer, not just the idea of one, the cost to run a company, and what revenue looks like.
These are the type of events we need to help ensure plenty of young women are ready for roles where it seems to be tough to find them currently: engineering, tech leadership, CEOs and founder roles.
It’s this type of event and opportunity I wish I had when I was younger. While our weekends were filled with many activities, this type of learning and creating didn’t exist. Our closest form of this activity was our self-taught lemonade stand in the yard and balancing town hall budgets in SimCity.
Now is the time to ensure our schools, after-school groups, weekend activities, and programs like the Girl Scouts have these types of activities. During my day to day, I get discouraged witnessing the conversations and struggles with finding female founders or women in engineering roles. But every time I help with one of these youth events, I walk away inspired and excited knowing that the future is bright, and that future is filled with amazing young women ready to take on technology and entrepreneurship.
Let’s build a future filled to the brim with strong female entrepreneurs.
These events are essential for building a stronger future filled with women as founders, engineers, and developing our most important industries. Do your local schools and youth groups have activities building skills in these areas? Are you involved with a Girl Scouts chapter in your area? Let’s connect to see how we can create more events like this everywhere.
For more information about Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and full photos from the event, check out their Facebook page.