Girl Guides of Canada is a place where girls can develop an early interest in STEM, inspiring potential career paths.
Since 1910, Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) has been providing girls ages 5 to 17 with a safe environment where they can try new things, gain confidence, and challenge themselves. The organization uses a “girl-driven approach” — meaning that participants get to pursue their own interests. When their voices are validated, they learn to advocate for themselves.
Inspiring leadership and decision-making skills, GGC’s programming is set up to truly empower everyone who joins. In groups headed by strong female role models, girls are encouraged to be open and courageous. And by learning to explore and use their resources, many discover that passions can turn into potential career paths. It’s incredibly important that female-identifying kids have access to these programs — particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas.
Levelling the playing field
Making up just 23 per cent of industry workers, women are grossly underrepresented in STEM careers. And since these jobs have higher average salaries than non-STEM professions, this gender imbalance also greatly impacts the national wage gap between men and women. Many education institutes and corporations are working to correct this — but the problem must be addressed at its root.
From an early age, kids are influenced by gender-based social and cultural differences. Boys are more likely to be encouraged in STEM courses because these areas of study are traditionally viewed as masculine.
It’s imperative that girls are taught otherwise, starting when they’re young. STEM needs to be demystified and accessible, which can be done by finding the play and fun in asking questions and experimenting. “STEM requires critical thinking and inquisitiveness,” says Ashley Pamenter, Programs Team Lead at GGC. “We want to encourage young girls to start thinking about the world in that way.”
Infusing STEM into everything
By introducing these areas of study and encouraging critical thinking skills early on, girls will feel prepared for and interested in STEM when they’re older. “They realize there’s space for them in these industries, and that these are jobs they can do,” Pamenter adds.
GGC is determined to keep doors open for girls in STEM as they go through schooling and into the workforce. Inspired by its own research and development, GGC’s programming helps get girls under 18 into the STEM pipeline. Along with STEM-specific badges like science or graphic arts, what’s unique to GCC is that STEM has been implemented into all of its programs. That means girls are being exposed to these subjects and applying their skills to real-life situations.
“STEM feels more accessible when it’s part of everyday life and given a broader focus,” Pamenter explains. “So when it comes up in school, they’ll already be familiar with it and know they can do it.”
Building bright futures
GGC help girls realize they can pursue anything that interests them and offers welcoming spaces for them to do so. Pamenter emphasizes that all caregivers can foster interest in STEM by encouraging exploration and engaging in skill-building activities with their kids. “GGC wants girls to follow their intuition, explore, and be set up for the successful futures they want,” she says.
Register now and get 15% off membership fees using the discount code GIRLSINSTEM! Go to girlguides.ca/joinus.
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