Girlguiding’s traditional image has been focused on crafts, camping and outdoor adventure. But its newest badge is set to be rather more futuristic. The 100-year old organisation has launched a new digital badge alongside Google in a drive to get more girls to learn to code and go to work in the technology sector. The new programme will include a challenge for Brownies which will allow them to design a robot, learn about algorithms and how computers work. A separate digital design badge for Rangers, who are aged between 14 and 18, will also be launched in the summer.
The Brownies programme, set to be available to 200,000 girls, does not actually involve any computers but allows girls to learn about algorithms and how they work in computer programmes and robots. In one exercise girls will “programme” an imaginary robot by giving it instructions on how to move around a paper grid and carry out tasks such as tidying.
Girlguiding ambassador Alice Pinney, 18, said the programme would show girls there was more to tech than selfies and social media. “When we talk about technology that jump from technology to social media is instant because that’s what people use their phones all the time, but computers are there to take science to a new level – technology is far more than this reductionist approach of social media.
“There is definitely a lack of representation of girls in things like coding. I applied for a computer science course and there were 40 people there and three girls.”It is just that girls aren’t being exposed to as much these female STEM role models which means that the field isn’t seen as accessible for them.”Technology should be as important as outdoor adventure in the Guiding movement, she added.
“The two things are very very different – adventure gives girls the opportunity to develop themselves and learn more about themselves, being confident within themselves is a really positive thing, whereas technology is a massive part of society which underpins practically everything we do, and it’s really important that girls learn the skills that they need whether they want to enter that world of work prepared, or something which may not be in the STEM sector but just about everything requires technology.