Jump to content

Female leadership in Boy Scouting

Recommended Posts

Insight and advice, please...


To date, our troop has had all-male leadership.


With our visiting Webelos, the Den Leader said his wife would like to become involved with the Troop as a leader when their son moves up into Boy Scouting.


One of our Troop leaders has apparently told her that women aren't allowed in the Troop.


Is there some BSA policy that prohibits female participation as an adult leader (I think I've seen females serving in various Boy Scout roles). If so, could someone please steer me to that policy (document name or number)?


For the record, I think there is a time when boys need to be led by men, and don't necessarily think it's in the best interest of the boys to have females as leaders on the campouts. I do however, feel torn in that many of these moms have given their heart and soul in Cub Scouting, and would probably do the same as a Boy Scout Leader.


My gut feel is that when we cut away "political correctness", most Boy Scout leaders would prefer women not be leaders in the Troop (or regular participants on campouts), but I don't know that you can bar a female from being a leader - and that there may be circumstances when such leadership might be welcomed. Any know what BSA has to say about this?







Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 138
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Women can serve in any and all roles in the BSA including SM. In fact the 2nd best SM I ever met,sorry NOBODY holds a candle to my old SM, was female. So there is no BSA policy restricting her from being a leader.


Now a CO does have the power to limit who they have as leaders, ie LDS troops, teams, and crews won't have females involved to my knowledge.


BUT I can tell you this, you limit who you will accept as leaders and it will come back to bite you.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Eagle92 is obviously correct. You'll get plenty of replies on this one!

I commission for a troop which won't allow women on campouts, and they've certainly got reasons (all could be argued), but because of that they lost out on a den of 12 Webeloes who decided to go elsewhere because of it. The troop not only lost the new Scouts, but at least 3 active adults as well.

Until they remove their CC (former SM), I don't see the "policy" changing. It's "always been that way."

Don't allow the troop's leadership to try to convince you that it's a Scouting policy. If they really believe that, they're way out of touch with reality. Do they even go to roundtables or training??



Link to post
Share on other sites

As noted, there is no BSA policy that prohibits the involvment of women in leadership roles in Boy Scouts (as long as they meet all other membership criteria).


However the Chartering Organization can set it's own standards for leadership that exclude women if they choose to do so. However, this is a decision of the Institutional Head of the CO,...Not the SM or Committee Chair.


I agree with those that believe it would be a hugh mistake to limit leadership involvment based on gender. In today's society many of these young men will enter the workforce or military where they will have to interact with women in positions of authority and leadership. They should learn this by observing adult leaders in the unit and interacting with adults of both genders. Those that do not afford their scouts this opportunity do them a disservice.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I have seen in our council (and occasionally when meeting other troops at out-of-council camps) a handfull of lady Scoutmasters. I have great respect for them all and I cannot recall one whom I did not perceive as doing a fine job.


I have also seen troops which state (very clearly) that women have no place in their troop as ASMs. One of these in particular is chartered with a church who does not allow women in top roles in the church either. Though this is allowed (the charter runs the unit), I believe it is out of touch and reminiscent of the dark ages.


Years ago in our troop, we had a mother who had been very involved as a CS leader, on the pack and district level. Boy Scouts for her was a Webelos III experience. She attended every campout. It was politely said that when her son was SPL, Susan (not her real name) was the best SPL our troop ever had, because she prepared every meeting plan for him. When the boy was 18 and an ASM/Eagle, we invited him to come with us to summer camp. He got a glazed-euphoirc look in his eyes and mumbled: "Wow! I could go to summer camp without my mom. That might be fun." As a consequence, we are careful to "screen" our leaders and see that if they are likely to be "problem" parents, we give them a job which keeps them busy and out of the scouts hair. We look at dads and moms the same in this way and do not discriminate based upon gender; we carefully evaluate each perspective member the same.(This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)

Link to post
Share on other sites






It is a good question with many different views on the answer.


My local troop is open to female leadership (however they currently are on the committee side), they have camped and led during specific campouts. We haven't stopped them from joining as an ASM, just that none have desired to as of yet.


A neighbor troop doesn't want ladies to join as ASMs, or their female committee members to camp with them. When a few families ask for definitive answer, they did not get a hostile response. Just a confused and delayed deferment.


It wasn't hostile, but we gained a few good families from their loss.



But regarding BSA policy, and BSA "ancient history". It was policy, till about 20 years ago. It was a printed change to the handbooks and adult leader application for the Scoutmaster qualifications about 1990'ish. I believe BSA added "or female" to the Scoutmaster description.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK. Thanks to all! Great feedback.


I also checked www.scouting.org's Volunteer FAQ's.


Here's what it says:


"Can women be Boy Scout leaders?


Yes. Every leadership position is open to women. In fact, more than one-third of Scout volunteers are women."


Guess that about sums things up...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back when I PDL-1 we had a gung ho female DE who really knew her stuff as she was a former vol. When they did break out sessions based upon your experience with the BSA, she went to the "expert" with all the oldtimers and the Eagles, getting a lot of looks by some in the process. When we finally went to camp and had to wear teh field uniform, she not only had a bunch of Knots like the DAM and SB, but also wore her WB necker with...4 beads.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the original poster has the answer by now, but just to add more anecdotal evidence: Our troop Committee Chair is a woman, as is our District Chairman (chairperson?), as was the Scoutmaster of my son's NYLT course. One of our neighboring troops does have a female Scoutmaster, though that is still relatively rare. Women have gone on weekend camping trips in our troop, though not very often, and there is always at least one female leader of our troop in summer camp. For whatever reason, I do not believe our troop has ever had a female Assistant Scoutmaster, and though I suspect that if one volunteered for the job there might be some "chattering" among some parents, I think the person would be accepted unless there was some specific reason not to.


It was not always this way; the national policy change occurred in the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately not everybody has caught up with the change, and even among those who understand the current policies, there is still some resistance.


The other side of the coin, as some have mentioned, is that the choice of all leaders is made by, or at least subject to the approval of, the chartered organization, which can make its own policies. But "one" troop leader, as you have described in your post, does not make the troop's policy on leadership positions, unless that leader is the Chartered Organization Representative.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"But regarding BSA policy, and BSA "ancient history". It was policy, till about 20 years ago. It was a printed change to the handbooks and adult leader application for the Scoutmaster qualifications about 1990'ish. I believe BSA added "or female" to the Scoutmaster description."


Quite true.


There is a website out there which records the BSA changing policies regarding female leadership. Finally some time in the 90s, there were 6 positions that women couldn't hold, and those were finally opened up.


I remember all the moaning and groaning from the 'old guard' that this was the end, that we'd have 'little old lady' scoutmasters, etc etc.


Sorry, didn't happen.


I know of many female scouters. They are as much 'outdoorsmen' as any guy. they have not 'sissyfied' scouting by being here.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Our Cub Master is female and doing a very fine job of it.

Here's how our pack looks at things: When it's time for somebody to be in a position of leadership, power, or authority...it is based on the individuals ability to do the job! PERIOD! Male, Female, Alien from Mars...whatever. If you are the best candidate for the job, we hope we are smart enough to have youi doing that joob!

Link to post
Share on other sites

When my oldest son crossed over into the troop, the two best ASMs were female. They "got" the program, treated the boys the way the program suggests, and volunteered to help out with all manner of adult jobs. Without the two of them I suspect the troop would have pretty much folded. We had male ASMs who made inappropriate comments to the boys, who acted like dictators to the boys, who ignored safety rules with the boys, who did way less than sufficient planning.


I think the worst thing about them was that they would sometimes report feeling discriminated against at the district level. One said when she went to the district Eagle boards of review, they made sure she was always on a board of four adults (i.e., there were at least three men on every board). Sometimes the old boys' network had a way of making itself known, even if it wasn't official outright discrimination. I really found myself disappointed by this treatment. They seemed to just let it roll off their backs, with a "that's-just-how-it-is" attitude, although they certainly gravitated toward work where they felt welcome.


I did have a couple dads in the troop mention how strange it felt to have women leaders in the troop, but they were doing so more as a comparison with how Scouting had changed since their youth. I'm not aware that we ever had any issues with women serving, and I doubt strongly that any argument advanced in this regard would convince me that it was appropriate to ban women from any particular role. A particular woman? Sure, just the same as a particular man. Not everyone is suited for everything, but I'd prefer to evaluate people as individuals, not just as a representative of their gender (or race, or religion, or ...)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...