Have you ever been nervous to raise your hand in front of your class? Annoyed by other students who know the correct answers for everything? Worried that, if you get the question wrong, you’ll end up embarrassing yourself in front of everyone?
Many people have felt this way at some point in their lives—but young girls seem to have it the worst.
When 10-year-old Alice Paul Tapper went on a field trip in 2016, she noticed all of the boys standing in front, constantly raising their hands while most of the girls in her class just stayed quietly in the back.
“I thought girls weren’t raising their hands because they were afraid that the answer was going to be wrong and that they would be embarrassed,” Alice wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
“I also think they were being quiet because the boys already had the teacher’s attention, and they worried they might not be able to get it.”
Alice, of course, set an example by raising her hand herself, but she was not sure how to encourage other girls to do the same. She spoke with her mother on the ride back home. Her mom agreed that this was a big issue, and the pair decided to speak with their Girl Scout troop about it.
The 12 girls in the troop were all too familiar with this issue and agreed that it needed to be addressed right away. They brainstormed a few possible ways to help solve it before deciding on a solution: a new Girl Scout patch.
The patch is called the “Raise Your Hand” patch, and to earn it, Scouts must raise their hands in class and recruit three other girls (Scouts or otherwise) to do the same. The troop loved the idea so much, they decided to take it to their local council in Washington D.C.
In many ways, presenting to the council was like raising your hand in class. Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital represents more than 62,000 girls in the Greater Washington, D.C. region, so the pressure was on. If they didn’t like the idea, it could have been hugely embarrassing for the troop. Fortunately for them, though, the council loved it!
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 25, 2017
Since the patch was first launched last year, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital has received phone calls from all over the over the nation looking to incorporate the “Raise Your Hand” patch into their troop.
“I’m so excited that girls in other troops that I don’t even know will soon sew the patches onto their vests or sashes,” wrote Alice.
Alice Paul Tapper is named for Alice Paul, a leader of The National Woman’s Party who fought for women’s suffrage back in the early 1900s. Like the suffragettes, she believes that the key to equal treatment in the classroom is by taking risks.
“I tell girls that we should take the risk and try [raising our hands] anyway, just like the boys do. If the answer is wrong, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not like answering a trivia question to win a million dollars on live TV.”
At only 10 years old, Tapper is already a phenomenal leader! Just imagine what she can accomplish when she grows up. Just like her namesake, she’ll most likely continue her work for the rest of her life, and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes.