The Role of Women in Cub Scouting History
The Virtual Cub Leader's Handbook


Den Leader Coaches
1st Den Leader Coach Training Class Participants in 1969  



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In the earliest days of the Cubbing program, women were allowed only limited participation. They were not allowed to register with the BSA. They could not hold the role of Cubmaster, Committee member, or Commissioner. Those positions were reserved for registered men only.

Since 1930 however, women have gained full participation in the program. This process has been gradual, but continual. It wasn't until 1976, forty-six years after the initiation of 'Cubbing,' that women were finally granted the ability to serve as Cubmasters, assistant Cubmasters, and all commissioner positions. They were also authorized that year to participate in Cub Scout Trainer and Scouter Wood Badge courses to which women had been previously denied access to.

Here are some of the major developments in the evolution of the role of women in the Cub Scouting movement:

  • 1930 Women served "unofficially" on mother's committees and dinner committees and assisted the Boy Scout Den Chief who ran the den meeting.

  • 1936 Den mothers could register with BSA, but registration was optional.

  • 1948 Registration for den mothers became mandatory. The position of den mother was well established and an essential part of the Cub Scout leadership.

  • 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.

  • 1965 Eleanor Parsons Pratt becomes the first woman professional Scouter as the curator of museums for the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM. She was born in Connecticut in 1915. She went to college for the first time at age 50 after which she began her 10 year career with the BSA. Eleanor died on July 6, 1998 after a lengthy and wonderful life of 83 years.

  • 1967 The title of den mother was officially changed to den leader to include both male and female leaders of 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.

  • 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. In 1974 BSA discontinued their use after presenting 439 awards in the first 6 months of that year.

  • 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.

  • 1974 The Silver Beaver Award replaced the Silver Fawn; women and men now receive identical awards.

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

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

    The first couple to receive the Silver Antelope award from the Northeast Region were John C. Horn (1967) and Solveig Wald Horn (1976). A second couple received the same awards later from the Western Region: Laurie Dievendorf (1980) and Robert W. Dievendorf (1981).

    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.

  • 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.

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

  • TODAY The position of Chief Scout Executive and BSA President are still the domain of men, but its only a matter of time! Many women are holding top level professional positions within the BSA. On the volunteer side, there are more registered women in all levels of Cub Scouting than men. In some Packs, the lack of male participation has become problematic. Many units now focus on ways to attract more men during their annual membership drives.

    ....and the pendulum continues to swing!

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Portions excerpted from "History of Cub Scouting"
Boy Scouts of America
Copyright © 1987
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