It’s hard to turn down a Girl Scout, and that’s no accident—I should know, I am one. From the start, we learn valuable business and communication skills through selling cookies (that are, objectively, pretty damn good). Community service often has an emphasis on sustainability and environmental justice, meaning our projects will continue to have an impact long after they’re over. Workshops and field trips allow us to explore new interests in a safe, encouraging environment. We do all this hand-in-hand with our own girl gang. The end result? Girl Scouts are fearless. With the encouragement of STEM programs, they’ll be unstoppable.
PlayStation’s Santa Monica Studio is teaming up with Women In Games International (WIGI) and Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) to provide a workshop for aspiring game makers to learn what it’s like to work in videogames. Aspiring designers will create a physical prototype, digital prototype, and test their design under the watchful eye of the Santa Monica team. While currently only available in LA, the program is part of a larger initiative to offer a nationally recognized videogame badge.
The program couldn’t be more timely: as organizations like Girls Make Games and Feminist Frequency have stressed, there’s a dire need for more women making videogames. According to the Entertainment Software Association, women make up 48 percent of those who play games, but only 12 percent of the people who make games are women. The conversation about women’s representation in videogames is divisive, to say the least—that’s why Girl Scouts proclaiming that “Girls are natural born scientists!” on their Women in STEM page feels like a breath of fresh air.
Game development is the latest in a long list of STEM-related activities for which girls can earn badges. Some of the other categories for badge programs include Naturalist, Digital Art, Science and Technology, Innovation, and Financial Literacy. Studies run by Girl Scouts of America have shown that girls gain confidence and problem-solving skills after participating in their STEM programs. Encouraging girls to explore STEM is crucial—more than three quarters of female high schoolers are interested in pursuing a science-related career, yet women hold only 20 percent of computer science, physics, and engineering degrees.
Looking back on it, Girl Scouts was one of the better things I did with my life. I learned how to market myself, and ask for what I want. I sold cookies. I changed lives. With luck, the resources made available by Girl Scouts and related organizations will empower girls to do the same—and continue going boldly where they’ve never gone before.