Today we celebrate our Scout moms, our leaders, our den mothers, our trainers, and the many other women who have had an influence for good in Scouting across the world. On this International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8th every year, we take part in honoring the achievements of women and continuing to forge a more gender-balanced world. Lets take a look back at the many women who have had an impact on Scouting throughout history and across the world and those who are continuing to better the programs we know and love. 

The History of Women in Scouting

Women have a tremendous history in the Scouting, both here in the United States, and across the world. Whether leading from the front or supporting the movement in less visible roles, the organization would not exist as we know it without the steadfast dedication of countless exceptional women. And this year in the BSA, alongside many other countries, we can finally celebrate the girls who get to fully participate in all of Scouting’s programs. 

Starting from Scouting’s birth, this timeline allows us to take a trip through time and look back at the roles women have held and their influence in Scouting across the world.

Women in Scouting Throughout Time

  • 1907 – The origin of Scouting, founded in the United Kingdom by Robert Baden-Powell.
  • 1907 – Audrey Wade establishes the world’s first Scout troop.
  • 1910 – Girl Guides is formed in the UK by Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes. Camp Fire Girls is also established in the US as a sister program to the newly formed Boy Scouts of America.
  • 1910 – Agnes Baden-Powell becomes the first president of Girl Guides.
  • 1969 – In the US, young women can join Explorer posts and eventually Venturing crews when Venturing is formed in the 90s.
  • 1976 – Girls are allowed to join The Scout Association in the UK.
  • 1984 – Ann W. Nally is the first woman to serve on the Boy Scouts of America’s National Court of Honor.
  • 1988 – The Boy Scouts of America allows women to become leaders.
  • 1990 – By the early 90s, two-thirds of the Scout organizations belonging to the World Organization of the Scout Movement have become co-educational.
  • 2015 – Dr. Ann Limb is appointed Chair of the The Scout Association (UK), the first woman to hold the post.
  • 2017 – The BSA decision to allow girls to join all Scouting programs is declared unanimous. 
  • 2019 – Scouts BSA begins, allowing girls to begin participating in all Scouting programs in the US.

Scouting Today

Across the world, women make Scouting great for boys and girls. Out of 169 national organizations governed by the World Organization of the Scout Movement, 153 allow girls to participate in their programs, and even more have women who participate in other roles, as leaders and trainers. 

international women's dayHowever, few leaders have more vested interest in the success of youth in Scouting’s programs than moms of Scouts. Simply, there is no Scouting without the Scout mom. These moms have transformed the movement, beginning as Cub Scout Den mothers in the 1930s and now serving in the top leadership roles in many countries, including the Boy Scouts of America in the US. From the mom who stays up late sewing patches on her son’s uniform, to the Venturing crew leader who accompanies her daughter to a High-Adventure base, to the Scout Executive who ensures her council operates smoothly, women are integral to the continued success of Scouting.

If you’re a Scouter, you know women in your own lives who have shaped the Boy Scouts of America, and maybe even Scouting across the world. Give them a shout out in the comments below as we recognize everyone who makes Scouting so great!

Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

One comment

  1. Avatar
    Ken Focazio says:

    I am doing a thesis on the impact of girls to the BSA Cub Scout Program, and I am looking for international data on the #’s. Like – Percent of Girls that participate in Scouting today – this would give me to opportunity to share with my Council the potential for female participation.

    Any help on where to go to get this information would be greatly appreciated

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