Girls In Tech Become Women In Tech: The Girl Scouts Get a Video Game Patch

Have I mentioned I was a girl scout for the better part of my childhood and adolescence? I was starting my silver award as a Cadette by the time I finally quit – and I didn’t even quit because I wanted to. I was just spread too thin, my troop disbanded, I had to join another and something had to give. The Girl Scouts of America taught me how to pee in the woods, balance my checkbook, work with other humans and, yes, write a story – all skills I find very useful to this day. The Girl Scouts of Colorado recently issued a statement of inclusion for a 7-year-old trans * girl scout, sparking a right-wing conservative cookie boycott and Boy Scouts of America to endorse a Christian scouting group that emphasized women spending time with family. Girl Scouts have been boycotted before, by the way, for racial integration and the inclusion of comprehensive sex education in their discussions. And now Girl Scouts of America has given me one more thing to be proud of.

LA’s getting a Video Game Design Patch, y’all! The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are working together with Women In Games International to create a patch for local scouts (patches are earned locally, badges are national). This patch is reportedly more technical than the equivalent Boy Scout merit badge, which allows for the creation of board and dice games as well as video games. Scouts will be able to earn the badge by designing an actual video game because girls are badass. They’ll be using Gamestar Mechanic, which (in the ultimate of meta) makes a game out of learning to design and create games. You don’t have to be a Girl Scout to use the site, either; they offer several different price points, including free, advanced and professional coursework options.

Girl Scouts as an institution is actually really excellent across the board about including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in their Journeys and Pathways curricula – they have specific badge experiences reflective of women in STEM fields and they acknowledge that boys take the lead in school with regards to STEM and that Girl Scouts is a safe place to explore STEM and leadership together. They sell an academic report on girls’ aspirations to STEM fields in their Girl Scout shop and partner up with other organizations to bring troops programs in robotics, engineering and even NASA trainings. All of these options are national, so even though this patch will only be available to scouts whose troops belong to the Greater Los Angeles Council, GSUSA is still showing the STEM love to its tiny, radical charges on a broader scale.

This is really important. By the time we’re asking the question “Why aren’t there more women in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math fields?” (answer: misogyny) at a professional level, it’s already too late. After all, how many high school seniors do you know who wake up one morning and decide to, out of the blue, major in computer science without having fostered an interest and skill in it throughout their childhood and adolescent life? Yes, we as adults can learn to code and be really good at it. But technology is like a language – your fluency increases the younger you start. And your desire to do anything is born out of the activities you participate in as a child. So three cheers for Girl Scouts teaching our future to be better than our past.

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Freelance writer and fiction author, Geekery Editor for Autostraddle.com and Fiction Editor for qu.ee/r Magazine. Keep up with her at her website.

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15 Comments

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    This is awesome!!! I wish this was around when I was a Girl Scout. My troop did emphasize learning about careers in science though- my troop talked with someone who worked for USGS and someone who thru-hiked the Appalachian trail.

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    Hot damn! I wish this was a thing when I was a Girl Guide. I wanted to get the badges, but for some reason our Guide leader teacher type (this was in school) would forbid us from doing our reports on computer and wanted us to handwrite everything. This really did not work for my brain, which was much better at creating through tech than handwriting, so I never really got any badges. Shame, because I would have probably been very productive otherwise!

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      My brother’s Cub Scout troop had open categories in their Pinewood Derby for family members, so I got to make my own car! (This also meant that the helicopter dad types got to make their OWN cars instead of making their son’s cars for them. I should note that I’m pretty sure my dad brought this rule in during his reign as Cubmaster so he could make HIS own cars.)

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    This makes me so happy that they’re doing more with STEM! My old Girl Scout troop was also a robotics team and we started the Robotics Patch!

    It was hard being on an all-girls team because the other teams, made up of mainly boys, would look down on us and not think much of us. Then we would kick their misogynistic asses and make it to the World Championships. HA!

    In general, Girl Scout badges/patches are more technical than Boy Scout merit badges because there are many components that go into earning one. It goes way beyond completing a task and maybe doing some community service, like BS badges. To earn a GS patch, you have to go beyond the task and bring awareness about why you are choosing that particular project. And there are leadership, self-confidence, and life skill learned from each patch.

    Yup. Girl Scouts, way ahead of their time.

    And a fun fact: 2/3 of Congresswomen were former Girl Scouts!

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    I’ve worked for the Girl Scouts for 8 years and was a girl member for 13. I get so proud when GSUSA does stuff like this! Girl Scouts at a national level has an amazing focus on diversity and giving kids real life skills. We do the whole outdoor bit where I work, but diversity and financial literacy lessons are built into our camp schedule for every age group.

    Boy Scouts are over there fighting about the gays, while Girl Scouts are too busy bragging about their amazing alumni (including the majority of all female astronauts).

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