Boy Scouts Science, Girl Scouts Sparkle

So this was shared with me today via Facebook:

Shows a pamphlet entitled "Workshops for Scouts." Boy Scouts have six different science courses listed. Girl Scouts has one listing called "Science with a Sparkle."

H/T: Alicia Maria K.

Surely the rest of the Girl Scouts science classes must be on the next page of the pamphlet, right?

But nope! Nope, what is shown is all that’s listed. Boy Scouts get to choose from Chemistry, Engineering, Astronomy, Weather and Robotics. Girl Scouts get Science with a Sparkle, which turns out to be a class on the chemistry of cosmetics. From the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, the organization advertising the classes:

Cosmetic Chemist

Transcription: Prepare to be dazzled! Dive into chemistry and learn how science relates to health and beauty products. Become a cosmetic chemist and concoct your own creations to take home.

As of this write up, the Facebook photo has been shared 1384 times and the Carnegie Science Center has received…some feedback. Tishka Miller, the OP, wrote that she had received a response from Carnegie:

Well they responded, with a full page picture including their non- Girl Scout offerings that are “just for girls”. They claim the Girl Scouts just don’t sign up for non-sparkly science programs.

Uh-huh. Girls just don’t want to science. Never heard that one before.

As Wonkette points out, Carnegie did an alright job of responding to the onslaught of complaints on their Facebook page. And very importantly, they recognized that this was an important issue and they responded quickly. Carnegie highlights the general museum programs that they run which are specifically designed to encourage girls’ interest in science (which sound pretty cool). However, they still place the blame on the Girl Scouts offering on the fact that when they have run Engineering, Chemistry and Robotics for Girl Scouts badge programs there has been no interest. They do offer up this:

“…we are always happy to book private workshops for Girl Scout troops and cater to a science topic they are interested in. We are also always trying to get feedback regarding our programming to see what programs Girl Scouts would like to see us offer. Interested Girl Scout troops can learn more here:”

I get it…it’s a tough spot to be in for the museum – how do you accomplish the complex task of balancing patron interest and programming availability? But that’s kind of their job. If the classes that are in line with your institution’s values and efforts aren’t selling, let’s examine why and then find a better solution than repackaging science to meet society’s messed up gender norms and expectations. There have to be hooks other than makeup that will raise the interest of Pittsburgh’s Girl Scouts troop leaders (because that’s likely who is choosing to bring the troops into these programs).

As several commenters mentioned in the original thread, there’s nothing inherently wrong with offering a class called Science with a Sparkle. Heck, I’d sit in on a science of cosmetics class! But when a class offering is so obviously gendered (and hey – some Boy Scouts probably want in on that), and when it is the only offering for girls, it’s going to rub people the wrong way. Maybe simply offer “Scouts” badges?

We’ve had a lot of awareness raising around the fact that we as a society have traditionally done a very poor job of encouraging STEM enthusiasm among girls and women, and more often than not, have discouraged it. An organization devoted to science promotion and communication needs to do better in the future.

Jezebel and The Mary Sue – who spoke directly with the Carnegie Science Center and Lisa Shade, a Public Relations manager for the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania – have also reported on this.

Boy Scouts Science, Girl Scouts Sparkle
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219 thoughts on “Boy Scouts Science, Girl Scouts Sparkle

  1. 1

    This shit is not hard! I am drinking on the couch watching my team get killed

    Astromomy: what’s in the stars?
    Should you expect a good day? Are bad omens on the horizon? Is it a good day to ask that someone special out? What was the disagreement with Hermione and the astrology professor? Come find out some cool things about Stars, Constellations, and how you really are ‘made of star stuff”

  2. 2

    I’m glad they’ve addressed the complaints, I just wish it wasn’t such a piss poor explanation.

    Funny that their mission statement states “Excite and inspire boys and girls to explore careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).” Well if you’re not inspiring girls along with boys, then you’re not doing your job!

    I think, despite their response, I’m going to have to write to them. I’m local and belive the entire Carnegie museums, science center, and library system are some of the most important institutions in Pittsburgh.

    As an aside, it IS Pittsburgh. With the H. We fought hard to keep that H!

  3. 3

    I can’t believe it took until I read Ysidro’s comment that I noticed the misspelling. I’m on the other side of the state, but Pittsburgh has an ‘H’.

    As the father of a 12 year old daughter, that sign depresses me. The idea of other offerings (outside Girl Scouts) helps — that girls are not limited by what happens inside the Girl Scouts — but is that really the only thing they could come up with that sparked interest? They are scouts, so how about something to do with camping or getting lost in the wilds? Donnie @1 has a good suggestion for retooling the Astronomy course, or at least a good description of it. Heck, the Chemistry and sociology of Thin Mints might be topical.

  4. 4

    Isn’t this pretty simple to resolve? Just offer the same activities for all scouts.. I’m baffled why there needs to be a distinction. (imagine g&b scouts as the first heading)

    1. 4.1

      Thanks, it’s a bit of a bugaboo for me.

      @=8)-DX: part of the problem would be the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are in no way legally related. Though one could (and they do) make programs open to all, I do see the advantage in having special programs for different groups. I just want to see a few more for the Girl Scouts that don’t involve gender indoctrination.

  5. 6

    Personally you would see less of these kind of “genderized” events if the US would stop splitting Scouting into Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and instead just have coed troops made up of Scouts, some who happen to be boys and some that happen to be girls.

    Signed a Canadian Scout Leader

  6. 7

    The Boy Scouts of America excludes all boys who do not believe in God. The Girl Scouts do not discriminate based on religion. How is insisting on religious orthodoxy friendly toward science?

  7. 9

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