It’s a great time to be a Girl Scout! As Chief Executive Officer at Girl Scouts-North Carolina Coastal Pines (GS-NCCP), I get to experience Girl Scouting and witness its impact on girls each and every day. From the foundation of our mission, defined over 100 years ago, “to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place” to the delivery of technology-based program opportunities for today’s girls, Girl Scouting encourages girls to push their boundaries, test their limits and develop their leadership potential. At GS-NCCP we are proud of the opportunities that we have provided for the girls across our territory, but we could not have done it without partnerships like those we share with IBM, its employees and its Women in Technology group.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2018, the U.S. STEM workforce will require more than 8.6 million people, and yet only 25 percent of all students nationally are interested in pursuing STEM careers. For girls, that number is even lower. While the gender gap in STEM interest had remained relatively steady over the past 20 years, it is now increasing at a significant rate. Female students express STEM interest at 14.5 percent compared to 39.6 percent for their male counterparts.
That is why our partnership with IBM and its Women in Technology group are so important. Our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and their friends deserve every opportunity we can provide to ignite their passion for STEM-related fields. And together, we are doing just that. From providing computer equipment, to helping us in our daily activities, to providing analytics software that has made it easier for us to understand our trends, to having IBMers support our girls at many council sponsored events, IBM has been a remarkable corporate partner for more than a decade.
The Women in Technology group is an incredibly dedicated and strong volunteer resource for the girls of our Council – working with them at a variety of different events each year, including Computer Divas (hosted by IBM), STEM program events at our camps, and TechnoQuest. At these events, girls are able to participate in hands-on activities in safe, all-girl environments which studies show is where they learn best and gain confidence. This is critical because nationally we see that as girls start to lose confidence, particularly as they reach middle school, they lose interest in STEM related fields. Being able to provide them with experiences like these, exposure to women in technology, and careers in STEM fields shows them that they too can take on technology!
Headquartered in Raleigh, GSNCCP serves girls from 41 central and eastern North Carolina counties from Kindergarten through high school. Our girls are racially and ethnically diverse and come from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Your commitment and desire to work with our girls, to share your time, and to volunteer not only is appreciated but meaningful. Your efforts extend well beyond the boundaries of our partnership or the counties we represent; they address our future and the futures of our girls by showing them that anything is possible.
It is a great time to be a Girl Scout, and I am proud to have IBM as part of our
Girl Scout family!
Lisa Jones is the CEO of Girl Scouts, North Carolina Coastal Pines.