A Show of Hands

March 16, 2018
HANDS UP Alice Paul Tapper (bottom row, second from right) and her Girl Scout troop created the Raise Your Hand patch to encourage girls to speak up.
COURTESY GIRL SCOUTS OF THE NATION'S CAPITAL

Alice Paul Tapper was on a fourth-grade field trip last year. She saw something that upset her. The girls were standing in the back of the room. They were listening politely as the guide spoke. The boys crowded together in the front. They raised their hands to respond to questions, “even if they didn’t know the answer,” Alice told TFK.

Alice, 10, says she often doesn’t raise her hand in class. Most of the time, she knows the answer. But she is nervous she’ll get it wrong and feel embarrassed. She figured a lot of other girls on the field trip were keeping quiet, too.

Alice told her mom what she saw. They talked about how girls are often told to be quiet and polite. Boys are encouraged to be strong and assertive.

“Girls are important. Their ideas are important,” Alice says. “They should be heard.”

Taking the Pledge

Alice’s mom, Jennifer Tapper, is the leader of Alice’s Girl Scout troop. At the next Girl Scout meeting, Alice found she was right. The other girls said that they, too, sometimes waited to raise their hand.

Alice’s troop asked the Girl Scouts organization to create a new patch. Patches and badges are a big deal to a Girl Scout. “They’re kind of a combination between a scrapbook and a girl’s first résumé,” Stewart Goodbody told TFK. She is director of communications for Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. “[Badges] show all the skills she’s built and the things she’s accomplished.”

The new patch was introduced in October 2017. It is called the Raise Your Hand patch. To earn it, a girl has to do three things. She must promise to raise her hand in class when she thinks she knows the answer, even if she’s not 100% sure. She must recruit three girls to make the same promise. And she must talk about how raising her hand makes her feel.

So far, more than 5,400 girls have earned the Raise Your Hand patch. They live in every state in the U.S., plus Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.

“Girls are powerful,” Alice says. “They should raise their hands so they can unleash the power inside of them.”