ORLANDO, Fla. — Gender equality and providing girls with more career options is critical for our society, the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA said Monday during a session at the 26th annual Professional Liability Underwriting Society's International Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Anna Maria Chavez spoke during a session presented by the PLUS Women's Leadership Network, which was organized five years ago.
She said most people's perceptions of the 101-year-old Girl Scouts, which she described as the “premier girls leadership organization in the world,” has been associated with cookies.
But Ms. Chavez said following a reorganization embarked upon under her leadership, the New York-based Girl Scouts now is focused on the issue of gender equality.
“If you have daughter, you get it. If you have a sister, you get it,” Ms. Chavez said. “We see the situation play out every day.”
The current societal situation, she said, is akin to putting up a question in a room and asking 24 of the 25 girls present to leave before answering it. “It's actually happening every day. It doesn't change when you become a woman,” said Ms. Chavez.
Discussing why this matters, Ms. Chavez said, “You're going to need more women in science, technology and math.”
But she asked how this could be accomplished “if girls are opting out of science and math by the fourth grade.” Even when girls get to high school, most put staying at home as an option over having a career, she said.
“I support all girls and their ability to make their choices,” whether they want to stay at home or become chief executive officers or underwriters. “I just want to help them get there, but when we as a society make that difficult to make that decision,” it must be asked what society can do, said Ms. Chavez.
Men have a key role to play, she said.
“It's not about boys against girls or men against women,” she said. “We need to support the men in their role, but understand we'll (also) need help as female leaders,” said Ms. Chavez. “Let's respect our differences,” as well as recognize what we have in common, she said.
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