Girl Scouts of the USA
Driving diversity in STEM with Girl Scouts of the USA
At a time when women account for half of the college-educated workforce, but constitute only 29 percent of the workforce in science and engineering occupations, Raytheon and Girl Scouts of the USA are collaborating to fuel the pipeline of female leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Through a multiyear commitment from Raytheon, Girl Scouts will launch its first national computer science program and Cyber Challenge for middle and high school girls. The program aims to prepare girls in grades 6–12 to pursue computer science careers, including cybersecurity, robotics, data science and artificial intelligence, among others.
Raytheon is the inaugural sponsor of the Girl Scouts Computational Thinking program for middle and high school girls, which offers age-appropriate content and foundational STEM experiences through the “Think Like a Programmer” Journey. The six-week series includes hands-on curriculum, and — like all Girl Scout programming — it is girl-led. Girls will have the opportunity to apply what they learn at Girl Scouts’ first-ever Cyber Challenge in 2019.
This comprehensive program has the potential to reach nearly half a million girls in grades 6–12, with a specific focus on girls from military families.
To learn more about how Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership, and to volunteer, reconnect, donate or join, visit www.girlscouts.org.
Read more about our commitment to community on our Corporate Responsibility home page.
Girl Scouts Impact: Raytheon employees share their stories
At an early age, Juanita Dawson had a unique opportunity to use her math skills when designing future Girl Scouts uniforms. In conceiving new uniforms, she depended on mathematics to create the patterns based on dimensions and body measurements. She knew how to sew and produced patterns for reuse by other Girl Scouts.
“I guess I was using Raytheon Six Sigma™ early in my pattern-making days,” said Dawson.
She counted on her math skills when drawing the measurements, put her leadership skills to use to lead the effort and relied on responsibility skills to complete tasks. The same competence applies at Raytheon. “I’ve had to form many teams at work to solve problems and come up with solutions,” said Dawson.
Dawson, a senior manager of Information Security, Risk and Compliance for Space and Airborne Systems, has many life lessons she’s culled from the Girl Scouts and brings into her work. One lesson dates back to a Girl Scouts tradition from 1912.
“Do a good turn daily,” is the slogan Girl Scouts say to remind them of the many ways girls can contribute positively to the lives of others. Keeping this slogan in mind, Dawson finds ways to add value at work and in her community. Her passion for service is highlighted in her role as an elected member of the board of directors for the Girls Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
Dawson has truly gone from the Brownies to the boardroom.
Name, Job Role and Education: Juanita Dawson, senior manager of Information Security, Risk and Compliance, SAS. Master of Science in information systems and technology from Claremont Graduate University. Master of Business Administration with emphasis in computer information systems from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Grambling State University
Notable Girl Scouts Awards and Accomplishments: During my time in the Girl Scouts, I earned awards and badges in the areas of math, debate, sports, camping and hiking.
My Girl Scouts Story: I have been a Girl Scout for more than 30 years. I started as a Brownie in the second grade in Shreveport, Louisiana. Girl Scouts opened doors for me in the fields of technology, computer science and math.
In addition to building leadership skills, the Girl Scouts helped me see the benefit in giving back and serving the community. I am now an elected board of directors’ member of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. It is a wonderful experience teaming with the board to ensure Girl Scouts continue to be emerging leaders.
What the Girl Scouts taught me about leadership: The Girl Scouts Leadership Experience encouraged me to be a risk-taker and champion for taking the lead. The Girl Scouts programs empowered me with opportunities to grow into a confident and committed leader. Their impactful programming and preparation, with a legacy of success, helped me to reach my potential as a leader in life and in my career. I am happy to have had the Girl Scouts advantage.
How the Girl Scouts prepared me for a career in STEM: The Girl Scouts early programs in math and science formed my desire for a STEM career. Exercising my leadership skills, I worked on numerous science fairs, math decathlons and debate teams in preparation for STEM awards and badges.
Participating on teams enabled me to prepare for leadership roles in the areas of math and science. There were also many role models and mentors in the community who helped me reach my potential in STEM and leadership.
Girl Scout Skills I Use Every Day: Leadership, confidence, motivation, trustworthiness, responsibility
Given that Raytheon’s partnership with Girl Scouts is focused on building girl's awareness and interest in cyber and cybersecurity, what would you offer as ways to do this to increase engagement in both? The Girl Scouts currently have excellent and impactful award and badge programs around science and technology that include cybersecurity awareness.
The programs start as early as Daisies, introducing the girls to technology, cyber security, etc. Thanks to Raytheon and the partnership with the Girl Scouts, we will continue to see new programs and pilot programs in cyber security.
Best Girl Scouts Memory: My best memory is of designing patterns for future Girl Scouts uniforms. It was a very creative process and fun for all of us.
My Message to Today’s Scouts: Be the powerful voice that integrates technology, encourages innovation and embraces diverse perspectives as you showcase the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
Favorite Girl Scout Cookie: Trefoils
Diana Raz can’t remember when she wasn’t a Girl Scout. Having joined as a young Daisy, she kept coming back for 13 years before earning the organization’s highest possible honor — a Gold Award — as a Senior Scout.
“It’s been a part of my life since I was born,” Raz said. “I enjoyed it, so I kept at it.”
Now, she’s an adult lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and an IT business analyst at Missile Systems. She views the Girl Scouts as family, both literally and figuratively. Her grandmother had led her mother’s troop. In turn, her mom led two troops: Diana’s and her older sister’s. Her sister also earned a Gold Award.
But being the troop leader’s daughter didn’t mean Diana was on easy street to Gold. To ensure she didn’t bestow any favoritism to her daughter, her mom wouldn’t approve any of her badge work. Instead, she had to work harder to prove her accomplishments to another troop’s leader. Still, she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I got to do a lot of things like camping that I normally wouldn’t have done,” she said. “And I really enjoyed the volunteering as I’ve always been a community oriented person.”
Name, Job Role and Education: Diana Raz
Business Analyst, Information Technology, Raytheon Missile Systems
Master’s in systems engineering, Johns Hopkins University; Bachelor’s in computer science, University of Texas at Arlington
Notable Girl Scouts Awards and Accomplishments: Gold Award; Tejas Council Gold Award Scholarship; Silver Award; earned all four Junior Signs; earned all the Brownie Try-Its available at the time; Program Aide; Leader-in-Training; served two years as a member on the Service Unit board; lifetime adult member.
What the Girl Scouts taught me about leadership: Girl Scouts helped me be more comfortable and confident talking to and teaching others. It also helped me learn to plan, think quickly and make the best out of every situation. These leadership skills and self-confidence still help me to this day.
My Girl Scouts Story: My story of Girl Scouting started before I was old enough to join. My grandmother had been the leader for my mom’s troop when she was little, and when my older sister was old enough, my mom started a troop for her. I joined my own troop (with my mother as leader) when I turned 5 as a Daisy. Most of all, I remember getting to wear the fun blue apron with big pockets that was the uniform at the time. The real fun began when I became a Brownie. In first grade, my troop went to a local Daisy group where we were each individually responsible to teach a game. This was the first time I had taught someone younger, and I remember the exciting feeling of teaching someone else a new skill. Through the years, I received more opportunities to continue to teach.
As a Cadette Girl Scout, I did my Silver Award project. My leader knew I was stronger in math than most and suggested I teach a one-day Try-It workshop for Brownies. This event opened my eyes to how much girls were afraid of math and science or didn’t think it was ‘cool.’ I remember one little girl coming up to me at the end saying that she didn’t know how much fun math could be and now she wanted to be an engineer. That moment sparked a passion in me to mentor younger people in STEM topics that continues today.
In high school, I started working on my Gold Award as a Senior Girl Scout. Following on the success from my Silver Award, one of my subprojects was to teach math/science badges to Juniors. For my Gold Award project, I taught over 500 elementary school kids at local schools and daycares about American Red Cross Water Safety. These projects showed me the impact I could make in my community by teaching others.
As a Senior Girl Scout, I participated in classes to become a Leader-in-Training, and as a junior and senior in high school, I had the opportunity to serve as a board member for my local Service Unit. I also acted as co-leader for a local troop, planning their activities for an entire school year with a focus on the STEM badges and activities. During college, I led badge workshops twice a year through the Society of Women Engineers. Now I’m an adult lifetime member, and make time when possible for mentoring college and high students in STEM.
How the Girl Scouts prepared me for a career in STEM: Having a leader who focused on STEM topics during my 13 years in Girl Scouts helped me feel more comfortable learning and teaching on these subjects. She encouraged us for all 13 years to think about what we wanted to do when we were adults. When I was 5, I wanted to be a mathematician that fought crime just like my favorite show on PBS. In middle school, it was math teacher or NASA engineer, and by high school, I decided on a career in computer science. Girl Scouts always helped me to look forward and think of what careers were possible, and never once did any leader or co-leader tell me that any of these were impossible dreams. Instead, they encouraged me to pursue them.
Girl Scout Skills I Use Every Day: Leadership, self-confidence, planning, organizational skills.
Advice offerd to build greater Cyber and Cybersecurity interest with girls: I would recommend starting in the schools. Adding computer science in the schools is crucial to introducing kids to the subject and cyber would be a great component to add to that curriculum.
Best Girl Scouts Memory: I have many great memories about Girl Scouts, but my favorite was receiving my Gold Award at the state ceremony at the Texas State Capitol. During the ceremony, the awardees got to sit in the congressional seating.
My Message to Today’s Scouts: Girl Scouting is a great opportunity to explore STEM and non-STEM opportunities. While I had many STEM opportunities in Girl Scouts, without the organization I most likely would have never ridden a horse, gone orienteering, watched numerous musicals and plays at Dallas theaters while volunteering as a ticket-taker, or seen the inner workings of local companies and factories.
Favorite Girl Scout Cookie: Do-Si-Do. When I started selling cookies, they were only $2 a box. The best place to sell them was either outside the bank on a Friday night when people were depositing their checks and couldn’t tell you they didn’t have cash, or to sit between the local pizza place and Blockbuster video to market them as a dessert for their dinner and a movie.
Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) engineer Amy Sorensen was good in math as a youngster in the 1980s, but while her family had a computer at that time, it was used mostly for word processing and did not capture her fancy.
All that changed when the new badge books for Girl Scouts Junior came out when she was in fourth grade.
“When we got our books and I saw that there was a badge for computing, I thought that was just the coolest thing,” she said. “I found out how to do coding, explored other things that computers could do and learned about how they were constructed, which really got me interested.”
Sorensen went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Utah State and a Master of Science in controls engineering from Georgia Tech University and works at RMS as a principal electronics engineer and risk and opportunity manager in the Systems Design Center.
She’s a troop leader in Tucson and one of her favorite activities is Scouts Day at RMS, where about 300 Boys and Girls Scouts come to the Airport Site for a daylong event. The Scouts work on obtaining their badges, see fun demonstrations and do a tour of the facility with the help of about 100 volunteers.
“I’ve been teaching the Inventing and Innovation badge sessions and we’ve gotten some really creative results from our Scouts,” she said. “The Scouts really enjoy learning from the RMS volunteers.”
And Sorensen said those volunteers don’t have to come from STEM backgrounds to help at Scouts Day or other Girl Scouts events.
“We love having someone with business savvy or even people who just enjoy working with teens come in and work with the girls,” she said. “It’s important for our Scouts to meet people in the community and to communicate with them. That helps build a stronger community.”
Name, Job Role and Education: Amy Sorenson
Principal Electronics Engineer, Risk and Opportunity Manager and Systems Engineer, Missile Systems
Master’s in Controls Engineering from Georgia Tech, Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Utah State University. Currently working on Graduate Interdisciplinary Development Program in Statistics
Notable Girl Scouts Awards and Accomplishments: Girl Scouts Honor Pin (adult volunteer recognition), Five-Year Service pin, Silver Torch Award.
What the Girl Scouts taught me about leadership: As a girl, leading a group of your peers is much more difficult than leading younger Scouts. Learning to help your group come to a decision is a big part of leading in Girl Scouts. As a leader I practice this with my Scouts all the time.
My Girl Scouts Story: I joined Girl Scouts as a first grade Brownie. I stayed in Girl Scouts through middle school age. Our troop had Scouts from all over our small town. We did a lot of community projects and parades and flag ceremonies. It was a great way to learn about our area and connect with adults. We gained a lot of confidence from those activities. We also started camping and doing outdoor activities in about third grade. We were camping in tents, cooking our own meals and learning all about the outdoors. As a Junior Scout we were encouraged to do all the “new” badges at the time (including computing!)
I got involved in Girl Scouting again as an adult when my daughter was in third grade (she’s now in high school). I started out as a parent volunteer, helping out with meetings or field trips. Soon I was asked to take over the troop from a “retiring” leader and ended up with a dozen new Scouts. I’ve been leading the troop for six years now. We’ve been backpacking, horseback riding and made lots of visits to the zoo and aquarium (including some great behind-the-scenes tours). We’ve also done some fun science: building model rockets, making solar ovens and learning about the water cycle.
How the Girl Scouts prepared me for a career in STEM: Outings and camping trips with my Girl Scouts troops really gave me an opportunity to ask questions and be curious about the world around me. Wanting to know how everything worked, and having the encouragement and tools to find out, was important to my career choice. Living in a small town, Scouting was also one of the few ways that elementary school girls had a chance to meet professional adults. When we would go on field trips to check out the dentist’s office or city planning, we would be encouraged to think about what we were interested in career-wise which helped me think about options I otherwise may not have.
Girl Scout Skills I Use Every Day: Planning, building consensus and knot-tying (at least my shoes!).
Advice offerd to build greater Cyber and Cybersecurity interest with girls: The new badges on cybersecurity will be coming out from Girl Scouts starting next year, so I’m hoping that will be a good way to get Scouts more interested in that area. All of our older Scouts (and parents of younger Scouts) who do online sales for cookies also sign an online safety pledge, which is a good way to start discussing what we really mean by online safety and security. A big part of Scouting is figuring out how the lessons we learn fit in to the broader community. I think in this case going the other direction might help focus the question — how are all the worldwide events with information security affecting us today? And what are things we can do to better understand that and affect outcomes for ourselves and our communities?
Best Girl Scouts Memory: When I was a Junior I spent a week at a Girl Scouts Camp. We were learning map and compass skills and one of the counselors had set out a basic orienteering course for a small group of us. She made a slight mistake and we ended up pretty far off-trail and disturbed a beehive. Being a bunch of 10 year olds we panicked – for about 10 seconds. Then we figured out how to get out of there fast! After we got back to camp and checked for stray bees and stings (we were all fine) the counselor could have just sent us back to our cabins, but she had us sit down and talk about it. Everyone ended up talking about how brave the others were, and we ended up sticking together as a team for the rest of camp. I’m still in touch with one of those girls today — those friendships we make in Scouts, even in the weirdest ways, are the best part.
My Message to Today’s Scouts: Scouting is a great opportunity to explore the world around you. It’s one of the best places to ask questions about your community, yourself, and your goals and get a chance to get out of your comfort zone. So look for those things you haven’t done before and just give it a try!
Favorite Girl Scout Cookie: Tagalongs — can’t beat the peanut butter.