Girl Scouts, Tulsa Int’l unveil new badge aimed to inspire more girls to work in aviation, STEM

TULSA, Okla. — A new, one of a kind, merit badge revealed at Tulsa International Airport on Tuesday hopes to show girls that they can do more than just fix drinks for passengers but actually fix and fly planes in numerous aerospace industry jobs worldwide.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma and Tulsa International Airport celebrated the beginning of a new program that would expose girls to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs with an emphasis on aerospace careers.

“Statistics show that the overwhelming number of jobs women hold in aviation are flight attendants, and we want girls to know they can do so much more in this amazing field, and these are also good paying jobs in high demand,” Alexis Higgins, the first woman to be and current CEO of Tulsa International Airport, said.

The badge’s unique shape is the same shape of TIA’s runways as they appear on a map, and there are five things a scout must do in order to earn the badge. The main tasks are exposure to aviation in the form of tours of an airport big or small, interviewing an airport official about their job, and other STEM tasks.

“I want this badge,” said Ruby Anton, Girl Scout troop member 7386. “I think its cool. I’ve done some rocketry projects before, and I’m very interested in the engineering side of things as something I want to do when I grow up.”

Anton said she plans to get to work quickly on checking off the requirements to earn the new merit badge.

Cheering the girl scouts in attendance on was Lieutenant Colonel and Airline Captain Sueanne Alexander who represents what is currently a rarity in the commercial airline industry. Currently around just 2 percent of all airline pilots ranked captain are women.

“I came into it late in life, and I want them to realize early all the different opportunities they have,” Alexander said about the hopes behind the new merit badge.

Alexander said she was in the middle of her college studies when the aviation bug “bit her”, and she realized her true passion for aerospace and aviation. She said with getting girls involved in aviation early, they can get some of the requirements of the job out of the way early and get them either in the air or in the hangar working on planes earlier in life so they can not only make a good living but also live out their dreams sooner.

“It takes a long time to become an airline pilot,” she said. “If we can get them some exposure early and get some of these things out of the way early, they can get in the sky sooner doing what they love.”