The Girl Scouts have gone from baking and sewing to cybersecurity and financial literacy

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderSylvia Acevedo credits her career success to her early years as a Girl Scout.
  • Sylvia Acevedo grew up as a Girl Scout and was named CEO of the organisation in 2017 after working as a rocket scientist for NASA and engineer for IBM.
  • Acevedo found her passion for science and engineering as a Girl Scout and introduced STEM programs to the organisation.
  • Acevedo also introduced new Girl Scout badges to jumpstart her initiative, including awards for programming robots and cybersecurity mastery.

The Girl Scouts is much more than selling cookies; it’s an organisation that provides a foundation for young women to take leadership roles in society. And since Sylvia Acevedo was named CEO of Girl Scouts in 2017, it’s also teaching its members about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) – shifting the sole focus away from traditionally female tasks, like baking and sewing.

Acevedo was previously a rocket scientist for NASA, industrial engineer and manager for IBM, and presidential correspondent to the Obama White House.

“I first really got interested in science when I was at Girl Scout camp out and I was looking at the stars and my troop leader noticed that and she showed me constellations,” Acevedo said on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “This Is Success” (formerly “Success! How I Did It”).

She continued: “So I started taking science and maths electives in school and then I realised that I could be an engineer because of the confidence I had at Girl Scouts.”

Acevedo credits the Girl Scouts to her successful career path and being one of the first Hispanic students who earned a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University, she said. She brings that same passion to the Girl Scouts and has introduced new badges to help jumpstart her STEM initiative.

The Girl Scouts has long offered badges for respect, being neighborly, artistic achievement, and good sportsmanship. They still offer baking and sewing badges but it it is not their main focus. New badges for girl scouts range from financial literacy to cybersecurity investigation.

“With Girl Scouts, we offer girls life skills and we wanted to make sure that what they were getting from Girl Scouts really prepared them for what was going on now,” Acevedo said.

Acevedo also sports a CEO patch that encompasses her journey, from a young girl scout to the current CEO of the organisation. She said her badge includes Jupiter from her days at NASA; a rocketship; an atom with the Girl Scout Trefoil as the nucleus; and her favourite maths symbols, including infinity because “Girl Scouts represents infinite potential.”

“I came from a very small town and I’ve had this amazing career, and I know it’s because of Girl Scouts,” Acevedo said. “But it wasn’t just true for me, it’s true of tens of millions of women whose lives were dramatically impacted and bettered because of Girl Scouts.”

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