Professor Mary Shapiro is Passionate About Girl Scouting

December 03, 2015

Mary Shapiro

As a professor and leader in Girl Scouts USA, Shapiro's mission has been to prepare young women for positions of leadership.

School of Management Professor Mary Shapiro is passionate about empowering women to reach their goals. This began with her participation in Girl Scouts. After starting as a Brownie in her mother's Girl Scouts troop, there was no doubt in her mind that she would continue to work with the Girl Scouts. “Girl Scouting is part of my life’s work,” says Shapiro. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she too became a troop leader when her daughter was in first grade. 

Today, Professor Shapiro serves as a board member of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEM), a position she has held for the past 10 years. For the past 3 years, Shapiro has served as the First Vice Chair of the Board. “As the Vice Chair, I’m on the Executive Committee where I get to set the agenda for what the Board focuses on, and be involved in advising the CEO.” Shapiro also serves as a National Delegate for the GSEM Council and in 2014 she represented the Council at the Girl Scouts USA National Convention in Salt Lake City. "Imagine being at a conference with 30,000 other girls and adults committed to the Girl Scout Movement," Shapiro recalls. "It was incredible!"

Currently, Shapiro is dedicating her time to what she wants to see at the next National Convention in 2017: changing the Girl Scout Promise. The current wording of the Promise is:

On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Since 1913, Girl Scouts have promised to TRY to do lots of good things. Shapiro explains, “I want to drop the word “try” given how it weakens the perceived commitment and confidence of the speaker.”

Shapiro's involvement in training young women has added to much of her success at Simmons. “For 25 years I’ve been teaching at Simmons, with the mission of preparing women for positions of leadership,” Shapiro notes. The Girl Scouts mission is to develop courage, confidence and character and create women leaders who will change the world. "It is the alignment of the Simmons mission and the Girl Scouts mission, and the ability to reach farther 'up the pipeline' where young girls often start moving off the path to leadership, that keeps me involved in Girl Scouting," Shapiro states, "That, and the fact that Girl Scouts, LONG before many other organization, embraced gay adult leaders and gay and transgender youth.” 

The advice she gives young women today is, “do not be deterred." Shapiro adds, "there are so many social messages, structures, and dynamics that, even in 2015, still tell women to step back, be silent, and do not disturb the social norms and power hierarchy. The world desperately needs women leaders, ones who are thoughtful risk-takers, make decisions only after gathering stakeholders together and collectively determining the best course of action, and speak carefully and thoughtfully.” 

There are lots of opportunities to get involved in Girl Scouts, such as assisting or leading troops or volunteering to help at council programs. There are 35,000 Girl Scouts in GSEM and they need dedicated volunteers for success. If interested, email