The Girl Scouts of America have long been thought of as the group which inspires young girls to camp, bake, sell cookies, and earn badges. In past years, these badges typically required tasks such as cooking and sewing, and other domestic chores. Cookies are delicious, but those skills aren’t particularly useful, career-wise. However, the Girl Scouts have been working on changing the face of the organization and earlier announced a new Video Game Developer badge.
The Video Game Developer badge has been in the works for at least a year and was introduced by the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and new partners, Women In Games International (WIGI). The badge awards girls for tasks related to game design and programming. Sheri Rubin, president and CEO of Design, Direct, Deliver and a member of WIGI’s steering committee states, “Fostering interest in technology and video game development in females of all ages … is the main inspiration for working towards a national badge.”
It’s no secret that many jobs in the video game industry are filled by men. In fact, when classified as a “gamer” even, many women and girls are left out. Part of the reason for this is that in general, there is a shortage of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. If you are the 30-40 age range, you have to admit that you probably weren’t pushed too hard to become an engineer of any sort.
Which is a bit unfortunate for us 30-40 year old women as well as young girls who will one day be entering the workforce. According to PayScale’s 2012 ROI Rankings, the schools with the highest ROIs are schools in the Engineering category, with the top 10 majors by salary potential being entirely engineering, math, and science majors.
So why don’t more women choose technology related careers? In 2012 it was reported that just 24% of tech jobs were held by women. In addition to claims that the gaming industry is sexist and the fact that women are often discouraged from pursuing STEM careers, Kim Stevenson, Intel CIO, also points out that “Often women don’t understand what options are available in tech fields – and that stops them.”
Maybe in the future, with the assistance of the Girl Scouts and the new addition of badges like the Video Game Developer badge, we will see more women choosing engineering and technology related careers.
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(Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Greg Vojtko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)