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History of Women in BSA

     Below is a brief timeline of the history of women in the Boy Scouts of America.

1932 - Women entered Scouting as the Den Mother became an official part of Cubbing as a co-leader with the Den Chief.

1936 - BSA approved the optional registration of Den Mothers.

1948 - Registration of Den Mothers was mandatory.

1952 - Women participated in the training sessions of the Second Philmont Cub Scout Conference.

1960 - The 1st den mothers conference was held. Forty women chosen from across the nation met under the leadership of the Cub Scout Division, Feb. 18-19 in the BSA national office, New Jersey.

1962 - Den mothers conference at Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey, March 28-29.

1967 - Den Mothers became Den Leaders as men were also allowed to lead Dens. The den leader coach position was created to give Cub Scout packs a leader and coordinator of den leaders. Women or men were allowed to register as den leader coaches.

1st Den Leader Coach Training Class Participants in 1969

First Den Leader Coach Training Class
Participants in 1969

1969 - 1969 Den leader coach conferences at Augustus House and Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey to establish training curriculum.

The first women were named to the national Cub Scout Committee: LaVern W. Parmley and Elizabeth C. Reneker. A study was conducted by BSA on the subject of "Awards for Women."

1971 - Silver Fawn Award for women was introduced for use at the council level. Elizabeth Augustus Knight, Marjorie Meriweather Post, and Ann W. Nally were the first "Fawns" of record. In 1971, 382 Silver Fawn awards were presented. During the next 2 years, 1,634 Silver Fawn awards were presented.

1972 - The first standardized den leader coach conference was held at Schiff Scout Reservation on May 6-7. Thirty-six women participated with the staff of the Cub Scout Division including Bob Untch, Marlin Sieg, and Ed Hesser. The faculty included Janice Butcher, Joyce Port, and Ann W. Nally, chaired by Solveig Wald Horn. This conference was a forerunner of many regional training events.

1973 - The National Executive Board voted to allow women to serve as institutional representatives, Cub Scout roundtable commissioners, Cub Scout unit commissioners, unit chairmen, and unit committee members, den leaders, assistant den leaders, and den leader coaches.

The first women appointed to the national Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America were Elizabeth Augustus Knight and LaVern W. Parmley.

Women were appointed to regional and area Cub Scouting positions.

Starting in 1973 and ending in around 1976, the BSA conducted several studies into the idea that women could serve in support roles in Troops and in local Councils and Districts other than in Cub Scouting. In those years, local Councils were permitted and several did register female members as Commissioners and allowed them to attend basic Commissioner Service Basic Training courses. However, they were not allowed to attend Boy Scout leader training courses until much later. The first Commissioners were mainly Roundtable Commissioners and Cub Scout Unit Commissioners.

1974 - BSA discontinued the use of the Silver Fawn, allowing women to earn the Silver Beaver award.

Catherine N. Pollard, of Milford, Connecticut, filed a complaint against the BSA with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights for refusing to allow her to register as a Scoutmaster for the troop she had lead since 1971.

Mary Wright became the first National Explorer President after being elected to this position during Exploring's third National Explorer Presidents' Congress in Washington. Through Mary's leadership, the Exploring program gained three new National Specialty Associations - Law Enforcement, Law and Government and Medical Exploring. The National Explorer President serves as a voting youth member of the National Executive Board of the BSA as well as voting members in other key committees dealing with program and support.

After testing it for two years, the BSA hired its first female Education Executive in Orange, New Jersey.

1975 - The first Silver Antelopes awarded to women were awarded to LaVern W. Parmley and Ann W. Nally.

BSA allowed local Councils to hire females to serve as Exploring Executives and as paraprofessionals dealing with in-school and Exploring programs.

1976 - The First Silver Buffalo awarded to a woman was awarded to LaVern W. Parmley.

Positions for women were expanded. Added to the list were Cubmaster, assistant Cubmaster, and all commissioner positions.

Women were authorized to participate in Cub Scout Training Wood Badge courses and Scouter Wood Badge courses.

The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that BSA is not subject to any state anti-discrimination statues, in a case which was brought by a girl (Schwenk) wanting to join the Boy Scouts.

1978 - Sharon Coleman became BSA's Council Exploring Director and therefore breaking the "management barrier" which was in place for several years before. The Old Kentucky Home Council in Louisville, Kentucky, became the first Council to have a female to serve as a Field Director.

1980 - Women were active in the planning and operation of the 50th anniversary program of Cub Scouting. Over 50 percent of the national Cub Scout Committees project committees for the Golden Jubilee celebration were made up of women and Cub Scouters from various parts of the nation.

The Cub Scout Program Division approved a new Cub Scout Day Camp program and approved a National Camping School syllabus for it's usage to train program and specialty directors. Before this time, only seven females had attended National Camping School and three of them were professionals. All of them had attended the Boy Scout Camp Operations portions of the National Camping School.

1984 - The first woman to serve on the Boy Scouts of America National Court of Honor was Ann W. Nally.

The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights ruled that the BSA had to allow Catherine Pollard to register as a Scoutmaster. BSA filed an appeal in the Connecticut courts.

1987 - The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the BSA had the right to bar women from leadership positions, in the case brought against BSA by Catherine Pollard.

1988 - In February, the BSA National Executive Board voted to remove gender restrictions on all adult volunteer leadership positions. BSA removed gender requirements for all adult leadership roles in Scouting.

Adult women were made eligible for election to the Order of the Arrow.

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