Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


ROSSBACHER, Lisa A., Office of the President 1100 S. Marietta Parkway, Southern Polytechnic State Univ, 1100 S Marietta Pkwy SE, Marietta, GA 30060-2855,

Participation in Girl Scouts has played an important role in leadership development for women in the United States. Of the women who have served in NASA's astronaut program, 43% were Girl Scouts, including the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission (Lt. Col. Eileen Collins). Both women astronauts who are geologists were Girl Scouts: Kathryn Sullivan (the first woman to take a “space walk”) and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger (an educator mission specialist). The Girl Scouting experience also contributed to the education of other women leaders, such as Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to become an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State. Sheila Widnall was a Girl Scout before she was internationally known for her work in fluid dynamics and then became the Secretary of the Air Force (1993-1997), the only woman to have served as head of a military service.

In a 2006 survey of women university presidents and chancellors in the U.S., 60% of the respondents had participated in Girl Scouts. The women who were not Scouts most commonly cited participation in a different program (such as Campfire Girls or 4-H), lack of access due to segregation, and parental limits on the number of after-school activities as primary reasons for their non-involvement in scouting. These women presidents and chancellors cite the benefits of Girl Scouts for learning discipline, responsibility, leadership, teamwork, collaboration, goal-setting skills, and self-esteem, as well as access to adult mentors.