When Girl Scouts become aware of an issue - rather than considering it to be negative or lacking, they view it as an opportunity for change. In fact, scouts tend to seek out problems so they can improve the circumstances, making the world a better place.
Cadettes, Erin Hallquist and Beatrice Raugei, recognized that four out of five participants in local chess tournaments happened to be boys. Upon realization of the gender disparity, they decided they needed to step up, take action, and improve female participation in this all-inclusive, non-discriminatory activity.
Believing that intimidation may be a factor that played into the disproportion of male and female chess activists, Erin and Beatrice decided to set up an all-girls chess tournament for girls in grades K-12. They wanted to eliminate any potential obstacles that may deter girls from partaking in their event, so they strategized and worked out all risk factors – hoping to make participation a no-brainer and ultimately ignite a fire within girls, giving them the confidence needed to enroll in future co-ed tournaments.
Though the two girls dreamt of balancing out the game’s male to female ratio wide and far, they prepared themselves for a less-favorable outcome. After all, “Be Prepared” is the Girl Scout motto. “We figured we would barely have fifteen participants,” predicted Beatrice.
To their surprise, nearly 60 girls participated in their all-girl, girl-led chess tournament, “Battle of the Queens,” at the Mid Columbia Library in Pasco, WA on October 14, 2017. In fact, they ended up accumulating a waiting list of people who were eager to be involved in the event.
Teacher and Regional Board Member of the Washington Elementary Chess Champions, Dawn Johnson, caught wind of the waves these two Girl Scouts were making in their community. “It tells you the girls want the opportunity to participate, but are afraid,” she said. “And this is a wonderful, safe opportunity for a girl to try it for the first time.”
Motivated to continue the movement, Erin and Beatrice have decided to hold another tournament next year - in a bigger location.