Did you watch the Indy 500 on Sunday? If so you may have noticed that driver Katherine Legge honored millions of Girl Scouts by wearing the Girl Scout logo on her helmet as she competed for the second time in the greatest spectacle in motorsports. The first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America, Legge attributes much of her success to the confidence and character she developed while growing up in the United Kingdom as a Girl Guide, part of a sister organization to Girl Scouts. She became one of just nine women ever to race in the Indianapolis 500 when she competed in her first Indy 500 last year, also wearing the Girl Scout logo, and she is one of only four women racing in the 33-car field this year.
The logo was worn to call attention to the cause of girls’ leadership and the need to encourage more girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “I had to fight to get into this year’s Indianapolis 500, and carrying Girl Scouts’ logo on my helmet reminds me of what got me here,” says Legge. “When I was a young girl, Girl Guides inspired me to believe in myself and my ability to achieve my dreams. I’m proud to bring the Girl Scout logo to the most important race in the world as a reminder that women can succeed in any field if they believe in themselves and work hard.”
Girl Scouts of the USA has been helping girls break career barriers for more than 100 years. In 1913, Girl Scouts encouraged girls to consider becoming professional aviators. Today, the organization is focused entirely on giving girls the skills they need to become leaders in their own lives.
One of the ways Girl Scouts is helping encourage leadership skills today is by supporting girls who wish to pursue careers in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM). Girl Scout Research Institute’s 2012 study, Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, found that girls are aware that gender barriers persist in today’s society. The study found that 57 percent of girls agreed that if they were to pursue a STEM career, they would “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.” The study also found that 89 percent of all girls agree that “obstacles make me stronger”
Legge works with Girl Scouting as a STEM ambassador to help girls overcome obstacles to their interest in these fields. As a successful competitor in the male-dominated sport of racing, Legge exemplifies qualities girls need to succeed in STEM, including a strong understanding of math and the sciences, being team-oriented, and working diligently toward a defined goal.