Don’t Let Your Girls Become Boy Scouts
The BSA’s new co-ed policy isn’t an advance—it’s an attempt at a hostile takeover.
By Davia Temin
Earlier this month—to the shock of the Girl Scouts of the USA—the Boy Scouts of America announced it would soon allow girls to join the Cub Scouts. And the organization plans to debut an Eagle Scout program for girls by 2019. This move is a struggling organization’s attempt to stem its membership losses and improve its financial position by going after the 2.6 million girls and adults currently in Girl Scouts.
The BSA has no dedication to girls or girls’ leadership. It has no deep commitment to creating “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place”—the Girl Scouts of the USA’s mission. What the BSA has is financial problems after losing hundreds of thousands of members in recent years. The BSA’s plans are effectively a hostile takeover bid, calculated to pounce on what its leadership perceives as easy pickings—a weaker organization, led by women.
Takeover activists disproportionately target companies that have female CEOs or more women on their board of directors, according to research from Arizona State University management professor Christine Shropshire. Activists often target what they perceive as feminine weakness, Ms. Shropshire suggests. The BSA is no different.
Girl Scout Council CEOs—who oversee the country’s 113 local Girl Scout councils—have told me that the BSA has already started trying to persuade them and their staffs to move over to Boy Scouts months ago. Their pitch, as one of the CEOs told me: “Better move now, because in one year, there will be no more Girl Scouts in your area.”
As aggressive as the BSA’s behavior has been, the Girl Scouts have not responded forcefully enough. Girl Scout leadership focuses on creating unique and supportive experiences for girls and adult volunteers, introducing new badges and cookies, and getting more girls into science, technology, engineering and math. The organization has been ill-equipped to mount an effective takeover defense.
Rarely has there been a time of greater consequence for girls growing up courageously. Confronted by today’s all-pervasive atmosphere of sexual aggressors (see: Harvey Weinstein), efforts to sexualize girls and women are everywhere. Given the BSA’s struggles with sexual assault—the Los Angeles Times in 2011 created a database of thousands of cases—I cringe to think of how this organization will protect, or fail to protect, their new girl members. They just want the money.
In hostile takeovers, the acquired company almost always loses its soul. It is turned into mincemeat and raided for its parts. The same will happen to America’s pre-eminent leadership organization for girls if this aggression succeeds. Parents, don’t let your daughters become Boy Scouts. They will suffer if you do—and the bad boys will win.
Ms. Temin runs a crisis-management firm in New York. She served on the board of Girl Scouts of the USA for nine years, six as vice chair.