Friday, February 25, 2011

Girl Scouts in Good Company

In reviewing the 2011 list of The Most Influential Women in Technology, Fast Company takes a moment to reflect on what is being done today to insure we are growing the next generation of Women in Tech. Author Eileen Sweeney states that this week is an opportune time to think about this issue and about what we, the women leaders in technology, can do to encourage girls to take on the challenge of changing our world through technology. Three organizations that are attacking the "girl-problem" head-on with innovative and creative solutions come to mind: Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Engineers Week Foundation, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Yesterday, the Girl Scouts celebrated World Thinking Day; observed by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world since 1926. The theme for this year is "Empowering Girls will Change our World." The Girl Scouts encourage girls to reach out to local and global communities; and take action to improve our world.

Each year, Girl Scouts of the USA joins over 5,000 women and girls from around the world at the United Nations headquarters in New York to participate in the Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the UN, dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, national representatives of Member States gather for a two-week session to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and the advancement of women worldwide. As Consultative members, Girl Scouts of the USA and the World Association of Girl Guides/Girl Scouts participate to bring the voice of girls and young women to the global stage.

This year's theme is "access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work". Yesterday, I, along with a group of girls, had the honor of participating in a discussion led by Dr. Sharon Hrynkow, a senior health official whose career and expertise focus on major global health and science issues. She has spent over 15 years working with the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of State, leading major efforts in programs and policies addressing HIV/AIDS, emerging infectious disease, the health impacts of climate change, global health research and training, and partnership development.

She currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, where her expertise informs a range of health and science diplomacy matters. Dr. Hrynkow leads the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science effort to advance a women-in-science agenda through diplomatic channels. She works closely with the Office of the Secretary and the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs to pursue opportunities to advance women in science and girls’ science education.

Needless to say, it was an informative session and great learning experience for a group of Girl Scouts from different parts of the country!