Home » Diversity & Inclusion » Today’s Girl Leaders Are Saying Goodbye to Gender Barriers

Andrea Chakma

Girl Guide Member & Mechatronics Engineering Student, University of Waterloo

In a world of constantly evolving technologies, women’s voices are essential for the diverse perspectives they bring to the table. Unfortunately, they continue to be underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields (STEM). Ensuring the next generation of women know the possibilities these fields offer, Girl Guides of Canada serves as a leadership incubator, providing extraordinary experiences where girls can explore their interests and be introduced to skills that will help them succeed in tomorrow’s job market.

Take it from Andrea Chakma, who’s currently studying mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo. She grew up as a member of Girl Guides, having joined the youngest age group, Sparks, when she was just six years old.

“Girl Guides provided an incredibly strong foundation for me to be the person I am today,” says Chakma. “The values of initiative, leadership, risk-taking, responsibility and organization have all been big skills that I’ve cultivated during my time in Guiding and they’ve played a huge role in my life.”

Guiding helps girls build self-esteem and engage in a wide variety of topics, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), global and cultural awareness, career exploration, outdoor adventure, health, the arts and much more.

Girl Guides provided an incredibly strong foundation for me to be the person I am today.

Andrea Chakma

Inspiring girls’ interests in tomorrow’s industries

According to Girl Guides’ research, nearly 2 in 10 girls (16%) hide their interests in STEM because they worry about being rejected by their peers. Girl Guides is bridging the gap in areas where women are underrepresented by introducing girls to STEM activities at a young age. 

During meetings, girls can experience fun hands-on activities that will inspire them to embrace these skills. Some of the things younger girls might do are getting messy with fizzy explosions, being detectives in analyzing clues and building their own gadgets. Older girls might delve into electronics and circuitry, try coding, or test theories while experimenting.

Chakma credits Girl Guides with being the place that helped her dive into engineering.

“I had always been a big fan of math and science growing up, but Girl Guides really introduced me to the possibilities that STEM could bring by introducing me to various mentors and leaders in these fields,” she says. “Having the ability to see all these incredible women in STEM fields, doing great things with their skills really gave me the confidence to go into a STEM field.”

Empowering girls and women

One of the best things about Guiding is the sisterhood that comes with it — both girls and women empower each other while building a peer network that’ll help them soar in whatever path they choose. In Guiding, everyone is included.

“The women I met really believed in me and saw the potential I had to make an impact in the world, and because of those women I was able to do some fantastic things,” says Chakma.

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