top of page

Breaking Boundaries: 5 Influential Women in the Scouts, BSA

Since its inception in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been an institution primarily associated with boys and young men. However, in recent years, the organization has undergone significant changes, including the inclusion of girls in various Scouting programs.

As the BSA evolves, the contributions of pioneering women are increasingly celebrated for their transformative impact on Scouting in the United States.

Here, we explore the lives and legacies of four influential women who have made their mark in the Boy Scouts of America: 

Ann W. Nally

1. Ann W. Nally

A celebrated author and influential leader in the Scouting movement, Nally was the first woman to serve on the Boy Scouts of America’s National Court of Honor. She was the main author of “History of Cub Scouting” and received the Silver Buffalo Award alongside the likes of President Ronald Reagan. Many of her writings are on display at the New Jersey Scout Museum.


2. Sydney Ireland: 

Sydney Ireland's advocacy for gender equality within the Boy Scouts of America has garnered national attention. Despite growing up alongside her brother in the Scouting community and participating in activities at his side, Ireland was barred from officially joining the Boy Scouts due to her gender. Undeterred, she launched a campaign to overturn the BSA's policy of excluding girls from membership. Her efforts eventually led to the organization's decision to admit girls into certain programs, including the prestigious Eagle Scout rank. Ireland's activism has not only opened doors for girls across the country but has also challenged long-held notions of gender roles within Scouting. 

Jennifer Tyrrell submitting over 300,000 petitions

3. Jennifer Tyrrell: 

Jennifer Tyrrell's story is one of resilience and advocacy. As a devoted mother and den leader in the Boy Scouts of America, Tyrrell's journey took an unexpected turn when she was dismissed from her leadership role solely because of her sexual orientation. Rather than accepting this discrimination, Tyrrell became a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in Scouting. Her activism gained widespread attention, sparking a national dialogue on the BSA's policies regarding gay and lesbian leaders and members. In 2015, the BSA announced a historic policy change allowing openly gay adults to serve as leaders in Scouting. Tyrrell's courage and tenacity have paved the way for greater inclusivity within the organization, ensuring that Scouting is a welcoming space for all. 


4. Marlene L. Sanders: 

Marlene L. Sanders is a pioneering journalist and a staunch supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1971, she made history as the first woman to anchor a network evening newscast in the United States. Sanders' connection to Scouting runs deep, as both her father and son are Eagle Scouts. Throughout her illustrious career in journalism, she has actively promoted the values of Scouting, emphasizing the importance of leadership, integrity, and community service. Sanders' advocacy has helped elevate the profile of the BSA and reinforce its mission of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices throughout their lives. 

Cub Scout mother and son

5. Scout Mothers:

Mothers play an indispensable role in the world of Scouting, contributing to its vitality and success in myriad ways. Their unwavering support, encouragement, and involvement empower Scouts to thrive. From organizing events to offering guidance, mothers foster a nurturing environment where young minds can explore, learn, and grow. They instill values of responsibility, compassion, and teamwork, shaping future leaders. Moreover, mothers often serve as role models, exemplifying dedication and commitment. Their involvement strengthens the Scouting community, enriching experiences for all involved. As pillars of support, mothers ensure that the principles of Scouting endure, leaving an indelible mark on generations to come.


The contributions of these remarkable women have had a profound impact on Scouts, BSA, reshaping the organization and empowering generations of Scouts to reach their full potential. As the BSA continues to evolve, their legacies serve as a testament to the power of perseverance, advocacy, and inclusion in shaping the future of Scouting in the United States. 

Are you ready to lead the next generation of women in Scouting? Join us!

13 views0 comments


bottom of page