Action for Change has given me a voice

Catherine, 16, shares how Action for Change helped her launch a campaign to get more women into engineering. And helped her find her own voice too.

I’ve always enjoyed learning about engineering, ever since I first started playing with Lego when I was a child.

But I was only one of four girls to take the subject at my school and I got negative comments from people about it not being a “girls’ profession”.  I talked to a friend from another unit and she told me that at her school the boys were encouraged to study engineering, but not the girls.

Action for Change supports and inspires Girlguiding members to complete a year-long project on an issue that's important to them.

That shocked me and I decided to do some research. I discovered there’s a shortfall of 20,000 engineers in the UK, and although women make up only 9% of the profession, their contributions are significant, particularly in fields such as environmental protection – from Mary Walton’s methods to reduce coal smoke pollution in 1879, to Inna Braverman’s innovations in using ocean waves for power in recent years.

So, when I heard about Action for Change, I knew I wanted to run a project on getting more girls into engineering and removing the stigma around the subject.

Listening to girls and talking to the BBC

First of all, I was given help setting up a Twitter account to promote the campaign, and I became good at seeking out influential people to follow and reach out to. Then I created a survey to help me understand girls’ opinions on the issue.

I found that 77% of the 234 girls who responded to my survey were interested in studying engineering, but only 27% said they had the opportunity to. I created a report of my findings and it got a lot of attention – I spoke to people from major engineering companies and the head of the women’s engineering society in America. I was even interviewed by the BBC! It’s really boosted my confidence, and made me certain that I want to go into engineering.

My next move will be to approach educational groups and politicians, including Nicola Sturgeon. I also want to create an activity book for other guiding units with information about what engineering is and examples of role models, so girls can learn about the subject if they don’t have the opportunity to study it.

Being part of Girlguiding has broadened my understanding of the world

Action for Change teaches you all the steps you need to take to really change something. 
It has allowed me to voice issues that directly affect my peers and I, and connect with others who can further influence my campaign. I’ve definitely become more confident, and gained new skills, such as developing my communication, online presence and influence and analytical skills.

When at the pilot of Action for Change in Edinburgh, I met so many inspiring girls with exciting and important ideas for projects, and it was great to catch up with them later at the Recharge event to see what they had been up to. This has definitely inspired me to continue my project further.

Being a part of the Girlguiding family has broadened my knowledge and understanding of the world. And has taught me the importance of gathering and voicing opinions.

I would encourage girls who feel passionately about an issue to join Action for change to receive expert guidance and mentorship to reach their targets. Girlguiding will help your voice to be heard, and help you to decide the correct way to create change.