60 Percent of Women in Congress Were Girl Scouts

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/delee928/6742486335/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Danny_Eugene</a>/Flickr


When the new Congress is sworn in next January, it will include a record number of women senators. Interesting fact about the 20 women in the Senate: 70 percent of them were Girl Scouts.

Of the newly elected senators, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) were all involved with Girl Scouts, the national organization reports. (At press time, they were still trying to figure out if Heidi Heitkamp, the new Democratic senator from North Dakota, was a scout, too.) If you include the House as well, 60 percent of women in Congress were once Girl Scouts.

This is notable, as only about 8 percent of women overall in the US were scouts in their youth. I talked to Anna Maria Chávez, the chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA, about why the group, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, is so well represented in Washington. “From the very beginning the whole mission of this organization has been to create girls who are very sensitive and in tune with their community needs,” said Chávez. “We develop not only leaders, but leaders with a political conscience.”

She noted that Girl Scouts are also well-represented among women business leaders and astronauts, for example. “This organization has literally created the female leadership pipeline in this country,” she said. “There’s obviously a secret sauce in our methodology.”

For certain, Girl Scouts learn a number of life skills—financial literacy, environmental awareness, the value of community service. On the campaign trail, Warren talked about teaching her daughter and friends how to use a knife when she was a troop leader, which is also pretty helpful.

While we’re all excited about having 20 women in the Senate, that’s still far from representative of the US population. Chávez said that is also why the Girl Scouts launched a new campaign this year, To Get Her There, which aims to increase the number of women in leadership roles through mentorship and supportive environments for developing those skills. The goal of the program is to achieve parity within a generation, which they’re defining as about 25 years from now.

OK, so, by 2037 there better be at least 50 women in the Senate. We’re looking at you, Girl Scouts!

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.