Female leadership role models
From: Ted Powell
Subject: Female leadership role models
Two opinions of the question of leadership of a Brownie pack, both
appearing in today's The Province. I'm inclined toward the second one.
Girl Guides Back Man
by Greg McIntyre
The Girl Guides of Lillooet are rooting for Burnaby father Earl Best in
his bid to overturn a policy banning male leaders of Brownie and Guide
"I don't see the reasons for not accepting men as leaders, especially
fathers," said Leslie Hall, a former Guides commissioner who now handles
publicity for the Lillooet group.
"I can see 100 reasons why we should accept them and I really can't see
why we shouldn't."
Sharon Bernier, a former Lillooet Brown Owl, said she defied the Guides
of Canada over the same issue.
Bernier said she was ordered to give Lillooet resident Brian Winter the
boot after he became a leader of his daughter Samantha's pack in 1985.
She refused, advising her seperiors: "I don't think it's right."
Best, meanwhile, vows to continue fighting the policy that forbids him
to lead his daughter Ainsleigh's Brownie pack, even though no woman can be
found to serve as Brown Owl.
"This law they're going by is 73 bloody years old," said Best, 37, a
single father. "Obviously women have come a long way since then."
(p. 34 -- EDITORIALS)
A nice offer
But male Brownie leaders aren't the answer
Earl Best seems like a nice guy. When his daughter's Brownie pack was in
danger of folding because it didn't have a Brown Owl, the single father
and former scout leader offered to lead the pack.
He was turned down. The Brownies are a single gender organization.
Best sounds like a great dad, one who'd make a good role model. But
leader of the pack? No.
In case anyone hasn't noticed, there's a distinct shortage of female
leaders in our society.
The Boy Scouts of Canada accepts both genders as both scouts and
leaders, which makes some sense: Young boys suffer from the lack of
leading women role models as much as do young girls, and girls need to
know they can compete on boys' territory. (Boys already know they can
compete on girls'.)
Conversely, there is obvious wisdom in insisting that girls' groups
have only female leaders. Such exclusivity ensures the exposure of young
children to female leaders.
But there is also obvious wisdom in allowing boys to join Guides and
Brownies; they might learn something. The danger is that they'd take over.
Earl Best sees sexism in the single gender rule. And he's right. Logic,
however, cannot be our only guide; common sense and sensitivity are just
as important to seeking a solution to this conundrum.
Perhaps it is time for Guides and Scouts, Brownies and Cubs to merge
and offer their members a variety of services: Single gender groups for
both boys and girls, as well as mixed groups headed by both women and men.
Women heed to hold on to their gains and preserve their meagre
territory; but discrimination, no matter how or why it arises, is never a