A Show of Hands

March 23, 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 when she noticed something that bothered her. The girls were standing in the back of the room, 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, even if she’s pretty sure she knows the answer. She’s nervous she’ll get it wrong and feel embarrassed. On that field trip, she figured a lot of other girls were probably keeping quiet, too.

Alice told her mom what she saw. They talked about how girls are often told to be quiet and polite, while boys are encouraged to be bold and assertive.

Alice and her mom talk about that kind of thing a lot. Alice is named after Alice Paul, a famous suffragist who helped lead the fight for the 19th Amendment. This gave women the right to vote. Alice looks up to her. She wants boys and girls to have the same opportunities. “Girls are important, and 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, in Washington, D.C. She and Alice brought the issue up at their next Girl Scout meeting. Alice found she was right. The other girls said they, too, sometimes hesitated to raise their hand, and they worried that this could hold them back in life. Alice wanted to change that. “If a girl raises her hand, it’s one step toward becoming a great leader,” she says.

Alice’s troop decided to ask the Girl Scouts organization to create a new patch. To a Girl Scout, patches and badges are a big deal. “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 pledge 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 pledge. 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.”