Sophomore Sophia Shams has been a Girl Scout since sixth grade and participates in Space Cookies, a special interests Girl Scout troop and all-girls FIRST Robotics Competition team.
Q: How has being a Girl Scout impacted your life?
A: Being a Girl Scout has given me increased confidence, and I think a lot of girls in my troop would agree with that. When you go to a Girl Scout event, people are coming up to you and talking to you, so being able to articulate what you do as a Girl Scout and then being able to embody the Girl Scout Promise is really important.
Q: How has being on an all-girls team impacted your experience with robotics?
A: Watching the way a lot of other co-ed teams interact, the girls tend to stay in the business and publicity side whereas the boys take over the mechanical side in the programming. I’ve seen this happen at a competition: a girl will try to pick up a drill and fix something, and the boys don’t want the girls anywhere near the robot. There have been girls that have joined my team because of that experience. Everyone in Space Cookies knows what it’s like to be treated as if you don’t know anything about STEM because of your gender, so it’s really allowed me to have more confidence. You learn from other girls how you should handle these kinds of situations.
Q: Some people think that Girl Scouts is sexist because of its focus on domestic activities. Do you think that’s true?
A: I definitely think that’s how it was. A few years ago, there was an activity where troops could design a badge. We were going through the badge catalog, and we were wondering, “How come there are so many badges in here, but there’s not a single one about STEM?” So we made our own, and then Girl Scouts contacted us with their own STEM badges. They sent them to us to look at and give our suggestions, so Girl Scouts is starting to make strides in the right direction. It’s a gradual process.
Q: What’re your favorite parts of being in Space Cookies?
A: Other than competing, I like [being around] leaders in STEM and working under pressure. Another thing would be the opportunity to become a better leader and learn new topics that you don’t get exposed to in school.