Girl Scout CEO visits Girl Scouts of the Green and White MountainsBy JULIE HANSON
Union Leader Correspondent June 11. 2014 9:52PM
BEDFORD — Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, spoke on the importance of encouraging girls to pursue their interest in STEM and management careers during a visit to the corporate office of the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains in Bedford Wednesday morning.
“I’m here to engage men and women in dialogue about investment in girls,” Chavez said.
Chavez is a lifelong Girl Scout member. Before joining the Girl Scout leadership team, Chavez was the deputy chief of staff for Urban Relations and Community Development under former Governor of Arizona and current U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. She helped create the Raul H. Castro Institute which focuses on issues affecting the Latina in Arizona with an emphasis on education, health, human services and civic participation.
Chavez said she’s proud to be part of the premiere leadership organization for girls. The organization has been developing leadership skills girls for 102 years, counting among its alumni 70 percent of female U.S. Senators, 54 percent of female House members, almost every female astronaut and all three female secretaries of state. Former Girl Scouts have gone on to become CEOs of major companies from Dupont to Facebook, Chavez said.
It’s important to show young women all the opportunities open to them, including those in the male-dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and math, Chavez said.
Research has shown that 74 percent of girls enjoy STEM classes, but stop considering science and math career options by fourth grade. The reason may be that they don’t have exposure to role models in those areas, Chavez said.
“I believe girls receive mixed and negative messages about their potential,” Chavez said.
The person with the strongest influence in encouraging a child to follow her interest in a STEM career is her father, according to the research. Both men and women can be effective mentors for young women, she said.
The investment in developing young female leaders benefits everyone, Chavez said, envisioning a future with balance around decision-making tables, Chavez said.
Girl Scouts of the United States continues to fill the pipeline with gender balance opportunities Chavez said.
Following the visit Chavez was the keynote speaker at the New England Women’s Leadership Summit at St. Anselm College and finished the day with a reception for Girl Scouts at the SEE Science Center in Manchester.