Jump to content

Female leadership in Boy Scouting

Recommended Posts

I think we can all agree that there are both good/bad male/female leaders. That isn't the point or question in this thread. The question is around female leadership in Boy Scouts. I assume this excludes Cubs, Explorers, Venture, etc. since those are different branches.


I agree with Mr. Boyce, there are times when young men need role models who are male. This is what Boy Scouts serves to do (at least IMHO). Women are leaders in every other aspect of a young mans life, why can't there be one place where men lead young men?


And no, I am not that old, Boy Scouts proper just allowed female leadership in the 80s, at least I don't think I am that old :-)

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

Top Posters In This Topic

I said a couple things earlier in the thread, and I think I need to go into them a little more:


1) Women as BSA leaders (beyond Cub Scouting Den Mother) came about because there weren't enough men stepping up to leadership. So far as I know, that is true, and it dates back into the early 80s at the latest. At this point, we have a 20+ year history of women serving the adult side of Scouting. There are great women ASMs and SMs out there, just as there are great men. There are weak women, just as there are weak men.


2) Are women good enough to serve? Certainly. That's not even an issue. Anyone who tries to make it one is full of it.


3) Does it matter? Only if we want to be as sexist as GSUSA (see erickelly's post above... if that's not sexist, what is?). Frankly, I don't see GSUSA being much of a model for anything BSA does.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just cruising through this post I noticed one fine point, everyone keeps pointing to the "BSA" logo. The USA is one of a few BS organizations (pun intended). I have had the privelage to see a few Scouting organizations (Scouts de Bolivia, Scouts de Panama, Scouts de Equador, Korea Scout Association, Scouts de Hondoras,..) all are excellent Scouting organizations. They have mixed troops but seperate leaders/staff mostly.


Having participated in the international Jamboree in Korea, I also noted that the Scouting Associations have less problems with boy/girl relationships. To them, not everything is sexual. Scouts are Scouts regardless of sex (read that as "Friendly: A Scout shall be a friend to ALL other Scouts...") whereas the BSA scouts shied away from the females and missed many opportunities to learn about the other coultures due to fear (of females or ribbings from other BSA Scouts).


About the only thing that I can think of where male/female models are STRICKTLY needed are items that have little to do with Scouting but a lot to do with raising a child (explaining menstration/night emmissions and dealing with puberty). Those are mostly a parent thing though I have known of single family parents that ask another trusted adult to help explain if thier child is of the opposite sex.


An adult Scouter is an adult Scouter regardless of sex/race/religion. Each individual Scouter should be rated on thier own merits not on thier sex/race/religion.


Maybe we should become Scouts of North America (somehow we think we are the only Americans) instead of the Boy Scouts of America. Lord Baden Powell's original group is not BS it is the Scout Association.

Maybe time we catch up to the world that is versus the make believe.


My $0.02





Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to say I disagree that saying boys and girls each have unique developmental needs that are best met by positive role models of their own gender is expressly "sexist" (with all the negative, politically-correctness charged connotations I assume were implied). To realize boys and girls develop differently, at differing rates and with differing challenges, one need only be mildly observant. Equal does not mean identical.

It is generally recognized that there is a lack of positive male role model influence among boys in our society. It is further accepted that the positive influence of male role models is very important to the development of boys to become well adjusted, productive members of society. These arent the random opinions of special interest groups pedaling a particular agenda but an idea widely accepted in the main stream (the UN and the World Health Org. to name a couple)

Now, having said all that, does it mean women shouldnt be leaders in Scouting. Absolutely not. They have a great role to play and their skills and perspective should always be welcomed. We will not meet the boys needs for positive male influences by keeping women out but rather by encouraging the active participation of positive men of character in our program(s).











Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...



I wholeheartedly agree. Truth be said, I think most women would also prefer to see men in the role mentoring boys.


The question isn't if a women is capable of doing a good job with it. The question is, if there are willing and able men, who set high standards in their personal lives and have the time and the will... isn't having them mentoring the boys the better choice?


Sure, I, as a male, might be able to lead a group of young girls and do the best I can to be a good role model on how to become a young lady (I guess)... but is that the best choice I ask... if there were willing/able females to do that job. How can I understand the fine art of becoming a young lady if I've never done it? How can I teach that?


Likewise, how can a women be the best choice for teaching young men the fine art of becoming a man?


Unfortunately, our charter organization (Church), is fighting us on this because of a woman who wants to be in an ASM position (although the ASM positions are full). We have an absolutely wonderful troop, with engaged, happy boys and plenty of good men to lead them... and now it's looking like it might have to be dismantled because of this.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello dwalto02,



There's no reason you can't add another ASM if there's a reason to do so.


I think there's an advantage to having men teaching young men how to be men. But I don't see any reason why women can't help that process along too.


There are plenty of young men who could learn a lot about how to deal with women in a polite way.


Nearly thirty years ago, I proposed the Mother of a Scout as an ASM because she had a lot of good qualities and was a dead shot with a rifle and shotgun, as well as an attorney and city prosecutor. Her application was REJECTED because she was a woman at the time.


I wrote a letter to the National Scout Executive at the time, and got a courteous reply. A year or two later BSA changed it's policy and removed sex bars to Scouting positions.


So my first question to you is what qualities, skills and experience does this woman have which would be a benefit to the Scouts and the unit? Would she be a good prospect to be a ASM were she a man?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow another newbie, pulling up a long dead post.. Welcome, to the forum, and feel free to start up a new thread if you wish to discuss something..


In answer to your comment.. Easy, it is no longer the 1950's.. So find a group of young women who have the same interest as you, and be an adult leader for them (of course, similar to BS or Venturing, you would probably need at least one of the Adult leaders to be female to make sure youth protection is covered).


There is no need to teach them how to be young ladies.. Sewing doilies and finding pretty pink dresses and hairbows are for a very small percentage of women these days, now adays you can find women who will love a good ballgame, tinker under the hood of a truck, and hike and backpack..


Enjoy the company of those who enjoy what you do.. Likewise a women may go out with the Boy Scouts, for youth protection reason there will be at least one adult male along. All is well with the world.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Seattle Pioneer,


Thank you for your post. To answer your question as to why not add another ASM.. There is no need. Our Troop is extremely boy run, and there is no need for additonal ASMS, it would be counter productive. I have a line of other men who would love to have an ASM job as well, but it's not needed. Again, I say if I have a good man, that would be the better choice.


There is value in females being around, definitely for many reasons, but I have a bunch of boys who have no father in their life, dying to have a man around to teach them how to become a young man, by example. Including interacting with women, which there are women on the committee we interact with all of the time.


Shooting, doing something rugged, whatever, these aren't the qualities that I'm talking about a man mentoring a boy into a young man being preferred. It's how to be a good father, how to clash with other men gracefully and resolve differences as only men do, how to be a good husband, how to be a good brother, how to work hard and sweat, how to be a gentleman.


If I didn't have a line of good men, who have a heart for mentoring young men with no fathers, sure I'd love to have an ASM woman, but I have 'em.

Link to post
Share on other sites



Seemingly, this thread is not dead. As a newbie, I responded to the original post because it was on top, but, rest-assured, I'm now well informed and frankly I feel much smarter thanks to you! :)


Frankly, your view on what it is to be a young lady is in the dark ages. Sewing dollies? Really. I am a VERY FIRM believer that Girl Scouts for instance has fallen into this trap, and it's been my experience in recruiting for cubs and boy scouts that the girls are DYING to do the same things as boys. Shooting, camping, fishing, etc. I support that and encourage that and fight for it.


However, what has completely escaped you is the fine art of growing into a young lady or young man. You may not see it, but the reality is men and women are different creatures. We live in a society that is trying to ignore that reality and make us all the same, but you see, we were created to be different. Not unequal, but different, with our differences making us fit together like a glove. Just like the physical differences make us so compatible, so do our personality differences.


It's sad really.

Link to post
Share on other sites



First of all, welcome to the forums.


Second of all, just so you're aware of it, you have resurrected a thread that had its last post more than two years ago. There's nothing wrong with that, just wanted you to be aware of it. Some of those who posted in 2009 may not be particularly active currently. (That's just a general statement, I don't track what other posters are doing.)


Third of all, I am wondering how the ASM positions in your troop can be "full." How many do you have, for a troop of what size? I am not aware of any limit on the number of ASMs a troop can have. In our troop, its the more the merrier. (I suppose there is some logical limit where the number of uniformed adults hanging around becomes ridiculous, but I'm not sure what that number is and certainly haven't see it approached in my troop.)


Personally, I see nothing wrong with having female ASMs, or a female SM for that matter. I also think it is a good idea, if you can arrange it, to have leaders of both genders. (In our troop it happens that all of the female Scouters are on the committee, including the CC; the troop has never had a female SM/ASM, but the "troop next door" had a female SM for several years.) But it's not up to me to make that decision for your troop. It is, however, up to your CO to make that decision for your troop. There should not be any "fighting" required. The chartered organization head or rep can sign the application and then ask the CC to sign it, and if the CC refuses, the CO can appoint a new CC.


Another question, why do you think the "wonderful troop" would be "dismantled because of this"? What harm do you think would result from having a single female ASM? Or is it the "fighting" that would result in the "dismantling"? And if that's the case, maybe you should just stop fighting.


(Disclaimer: The above comment is based only on the facts presented. If there are other or different facts that we don't know about, my opinion might be different.)


(Added note: If my post seems somewhat "behind the times," when I started writing it there were no responses to dwalt's post. Several have snuck in in the time it took me to write my post, bit by bit, with actual work intervening several times along the way.)(This message has been edited by njcubscouter)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dwalt, now that I have read your later posts, I have another question. You have "a bunch of boys who have no father in their life," yet at the same time you have "a line of other men" who would love to be ASM but not enough spots for them to fill. I am not doubting you, but something in there does not compute, as they used to say. At the very least, you have an unusual situation. In my experience (including reading these forums), it is usually the troops with a lot of single-female-parent Scouts that have female SMs/ASMs by necessity, because there aren't enough men around to do it. And yet your troop, with many "fatherless" boys, doesn't have enough ASM spots for all the men willing to fill them? As I said, if the answer is "yes," ok, but it sounds like a unique situation to me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well at least you & I agree that women like all that boys do.. Just your term of "Young Ladies" is such and old-fashioned term, it surfaces the image of women doing needle point and holding tea parties.. Most women would cringe at the term, just as we do with the term of Ma'am..


Perhaps as a young women growing up I had my fill of female influence and would have loved to have some male influence in my life.. Mostly women do fine with mothers, sisters, and girl friends in being able to figure out the "differences"..


When having a good time, and going on adventures is not the time they want to be spent learning about being a young lady, it is time to have fun.. They are fine to just being one of the guys. Frankly boys also can use some male role models if they are without a father figure, but, if you have at least one male and possibly more, then the one female on the troop will not kill the male role model.. Unless you want to teach them how to pee on trees, swear and belch. Which really isn't quite what BSA is suppose to be teaching.


If the female is adventursome and does not hold the boys back or mother them, she is excepted by the boys. I have never seen a boy upset to have a woman adult leader on the trip, especially if she happens to also be easy on the eyes.. I have only seen the complaints and arguements against it come from some of the male adults in this forum.. And only twice in our troop once when we only had one cabin for everyone, so they thought the co-ed single female would not be a good idea, and at Sea Base trip when co-ed was only allowed for Venturing Crews (although I think as the time neared and we had a problem with adult leadership we almost had it waved to have a female leader. Then we got the extra male adult.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's an interesting idea that it takes real men to raise real men. I guess there isn't enough testosterone around when women enter the picture or they can't all scratch their butts and fart orsomething?


In prior centuries it was certainly mother's work to raise up fine young gentlemen, fatherly influence came about with a belt for younger lads and once old enough to start working along side dad in doing hard physical labor on the farm, but only once old enough to wear long pants and hold their own.


Somehow or other women were able to raise up young men who could enter the workforce and raise their own families by the time they were 15 or 16.


In recent history, with dads becoming more involved in their children's lives, it's likely to see young men unable to leave the nest until they are well into their 20's, and I certainly don't think that's because moms are the ones babying them so much.


I spend most of my time in troop meetings explaining to moms and DADS why their son is perfectly capable of doing xyz all by themselves, that mom or DAD don't have to go on every campout to hold their kid's hand, that yes, it is your son's responsibility to do the stuff in his book, it's not up to mom or DAD to open the book and talk him thru it step by step.


When they balk, I point to my sons, who have a reputation in the troop of being highly capable, highly self sufficient young men, who certainly aren't tied to their mother's apron. When the parents balk, I remind them that I am a mom too, and that I KNOW my kid is capable. Never do for a scout what you can teach them to do for themselves. And I know their kid is capable too, he just has to be given the chance.


In committee meetings I remind other leaders and the scoutmaster frequently that the boys can take permission slips, money, make reservations, plan how many drivers they need and all of that. I push back on the hover parents, moms and DADS and SMs and ASMs even. It doesn't work as well as I would like, some seem to think my boys are an anomaly, not seeing the idea that if they push their boys, and don't baby them so much, their children are certainly as capable as mine are. Sure they'll mess up, but we all do, hopefully when younger and the problem is smaller. I unwind the apron strings over and over again until they finally, hopefully stay that way.



I'm just a mom as membership chair for my troop. But I expect more of the boys than our SM or AS's do. The gasps in the room when I say out loud that we take too many adults on campouts. the gasps when I say we don't need 20 adults to go to summer camp to take 30 boys to camp. And that no adult needs to be helping the boys pack their bags or put up their tents.


be careful painting female adult leaders with the same brush.

and be careful with thinking that it only takes men to raise men. none of you would be here without women, and I don't mean just for the eggs and the womb.

Link to post
Share on other sites



Thanks for getting me up to speed.


Good question on the ASM positions. There is no limit on ASMs, but in a truly boy run troop, there is a point when you have too much adult supervision by ASMs. So long as it's possible, the SM, and possibly an ASM or two, depending on the size of the troop is enough to carry out the SM conferences, and hands-off guidance needed. Too many ASMs with nothing to do, they'll start interfering, and then, the boys have adults taking over.


I disagree the more the merrier, I'm a long time scouter and SM and I've found it to be true. We have 30 boys, 3 ASMs.


I also disagree with it being a preferred idea to have female ASMS and/or SMs as well. For my Troop, we have a focus on boys learning to be young men. Who better to teach that then a good man? At school, at home (mom), and at work as they get older, there are plenty of female influences. Why are all of the Youth members boys? Because there is a certain dynamic that can be found only in a group of boys, not co-ed. Same with the adult leadership being involved. To keep the male group dynamic, male leaders are best.


The "dismantled" troop is something I can't discuss right now.


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...