Girl scouts of the USA turns 100: the original women's leadership pipeline.

Author:Temin, Davia
Position:35TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
 
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From the moment I went into investment banking after graduate school, the one reason I heard over and over again as to why there weren't more women in investment banking, or senior management, was that there was a lack of women in the "pipeline." Thirty years later, pipeline issues are still cited as the reason why women aren't more represented in leadership ranks. Companies are still struggling to have numbers of women in the boardroom that are proportionate to the number of women in business, and the numbers have been stagnant for a while--only 15.7% of Fortune 500 board seats are female, across a U.S. labor force that's nearly 47% women.

But behind these statistics is a force that will change these numbers dramatically: the Girl Scouts. Speaking as the first vice chair of the board of Girl Scouts of the USA, I can tell you that we are creating a pipeline straight to America's boardrooms. For the past 100 years, Girl Scouts has been the engine for developing in girls the very skills and qualities needed for good directorship: strategy, vision, leadership, teamwork, entrepreneurialism. Today we have introduced a whole new curriculum for girls 5 to 17, centered on "leadership journeys" and helping every girl recognize and reach her own leadership potential. Reflecting the trend of companies' becoming more committed to leadership development programs to train their high-potential executives, the Girl Scouts organization is attracting more and more companies who want to support and sponsor what is really the "original" leadership development program for women.

We have over 50 million living alumnae of the Girl Scouts. If you speak with any group of high-level women in business, I guarantee you that 70-80% of them were Girl Scouts, and can tell you stories about how Girl Scouting revealed an early drive for success. For me, selling Girl Scout cookies was my first experience in entrepreneurship (outside the lemonade stand), and I was able to sell more Girl Scout cookies than any girl in Ohio. The experience taught me how to develop a...

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