How Girl Scouts of Hawaii wants to develop the next generation of female leadership

By Katie Murar.  Source: Pacific Business News.

Shari Chang is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii. Photo: PBN

Shari Chang is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii. Photo: PBN

The Girl Scouts of Hawaii are ramping up efforts to mentor and educate young girls in the Islands to combat declining statistics and bolster the qualified workforce pool in the state.

According to a recent State of Girls report released by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 68 percent of eighth-grade Hawaii girls are not proficient in math, and 68 percent of fourth-grade girls are not proficient in reading.

The organization is trying to combat further dips by introducing STEM programs to young girls in the community as early as kindergarten, as well as increase self-esteem and social qualities to make them competitive job candidates.

Shari Chang is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii.  Photo: PBN 

“We have a lot of challenges in Hawaii, and we want to get more girls involved in our program to help solve those challenges and provide training to help make them better people and have better careers,” Shari Chang, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, told Pacific Business News. “We try to teach them to advocate for themselves and develop confidence to break the cycle and become great leaders in Hawaii.”

Over the summer, the organization launched 23 new initiatives focused on STEM programs to get younger girls engaged in the math and science industries, as well as community service and life skills programs.

“In order to develop confidence, you have to take risks, and we let that happen in a safe environment that enables progress,” Chang said. “We want our girls to use computational thinking, to think like a programmer, like a citizen scientist.”

Chang added that there is an increasing amount of opportunities in Hawaii, especially in the tech industry, and these programs can help ready Hawaii residents for these jobs, ultimately becoming leaders in their field.

The organization will hold an educational event this November, called STEM Fest Oahu, that will bring together 91 STEM professionals—91 percent of which are women—and 385 girls from all Islands. Two weeks later, it will hold Girl Fest, which will bring in executives from 20 companies including Microsoft and Tesla.