The Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida awarded incoming junior, Seraphina Hsiao, the Girl Scout Gold Award on May 22 at Signature Grand for her Gold project. The Gold Award is the highest award one can earn within the Girl Scouts. The organization explains, “the Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable—proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has.”
To create her project, Hsiao spent two years interviewing and recording female professionals discussing their experiences in their careers. “I have created a website that serves as a virtual career day resource to shatter stereotypes and address the issue of female underrepresentation in certain careers. I have designed the website to feature thirty interviews with women who have been successful in traditionally male-dominated careers,” Hsiao explained.
“My main goal was to create a website where young girls can be inspired to pursue their dreams with confidence in whatever career they choose, where young boys will have a chance to see successful, professional women representing a variety of careers before they develop stereotypes and carry them into the workplace, and where students of any gender can be educated about amazing career possibilities,” Hsiao stated.
Hsiao realized that representation was important, as many subconsciously make conclusions based on stereotypes.
“When I was younger, a Girl Scout activity caused me to become aware of my own subconscious stereotypes about genders in careers. We were asked to draw pictures of people in various careers, and everyone participating drew males in certain careers, such as president, pilot, scientist, because for most of us, that’s all we had seen represented. It revealed perceptions we weren’t even aware we had,” Hsiao said.
Hsiao believed her Virtual Career Day website would propel a needed change. Her website, challenging the typical rhetoric, already changed some students’ perspectives.
“One of the teachers from a school I shared my website with sent me a heartfelt letter written by one of her students. The student told her about how helpful my website had been to them, so helpful in fact that it changed their entire mindset about careers and the career they wanted to have in the future. I was thrilled to find out my website was actually delivering the message I wanted to get across, and that all my work was paying off,” Hsiao said.
Hsiao’s website has been both widely recognized and well-received by thousands of students across the country.
“I set a goal to reach at least 100 students with my project, but since I partnered with so many schools to promote my project, it has actually been shared with thousands of students in at least eight different schools in Palm Beach and Broward so far (and others around the country, thanks to social media). I have received almost 600 individual survey responses from students as of March 2021, one month after fully launching the site. 93.1% of the almost 600 students who have visited my website and completed the survey so far said they learned something new, 71.2% were exposed to a career they’d never heard of before, 73.9% say they were inspired to look into careers they previously thought they wouldn’t and 91.2% said they would recommend my site to others. The students’ average 1-10 rating of my project was a 9,” Hsiao declared.
Propelled by the large success of her website, Hsiao plans more projects to impact her community. “I plan to continue working on and growing my website, but I also founded a club that provides community service right here at Heritage. Miracle Network Dance Marathon strives to raise money for hospitalized children struggling with their health. We have hosted multiple restaurant fundraisers so far, but we also hope to be able to put together a dance marathon event and be able to give even more to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital,” Hsiao said.
Her duty as a Girl Scout also entails serving the community. “As a Girl Scout, I am also constantly working on local service projects such as Operation Christmas Child, food drives to benefit Feeding South Florida, school supply collections for Child Net, making supplies for the Humane Society of Broward County and much more,” Hsiao explained.
As for her Gold Project, Hsiao hopes that it continues spreading to schools across the country and helping young students see a new point of view. “The website will be maintained as a free resource for educators, students, and scouts to use indefinitely, as long as “male-dominated” careers exist… until hopefully some day, it’s no longer needed,” she stated.