We founded the G-Eng (Guides in Engineering) Project when we joined BAE Systems in 2015, and for three young Engineering professionals, it’s been a rocky and exhilarating journey so far (with much more to come!).
Upon joining the Engineering industry, we recognised the lack of women in engineering roles across the Engineering and Defence industries and vowed to do something to make a change for the better.
We came together to brainstorm ideas of how we could collaborate with the Girlguiding organisation, recognising that it provided a perfect avenue for us to reach out to a huge population of girls and young women all across the nation (and world!). We initially ran some local Engineering engagement days, to break down stereotypes about what it really means to be an engineer. Following on from the success of these initial events, we decided to collaborate with Girlguiding North West England to produce their first ever Engineering Challenge Badge – “Clever Cogs”.
Clever Cogs includes 13 different activities based around different types of Engineering; we focused on areas of Engineering that were less well-known, such as Biomechanical Engineering and Systems Engineering. What’s unique about Clever Cogs is that it also includes a series of inspiring role models for each activity – each of them pioneers in that particular field of Engineering. We think it is incredibly important to show girls and young women real examples of women doing amazing things in all fields of engineering.
Clever Cogs was launched on International Women’s Day (8th March), 2017. To-date, it has been completed by over 20,500 girls nationwide. Due to the success of Clever Cogs, our work soon caught the attention of other parts of BAE Systems, and one day we received a call from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence asking if we could work with them to launch a similar initiative in Singapore.
We launched our next badge, “She Solves”, within the Girl Guides Singapore organisation on 14th and 15th March 2019. This badge is very similar to Clever Cogs, but includes additional activities around Cyber Security and Internet Safety. The launch of this badge was supported by HM Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific, Natalie Black, who opened the launch event and talked to the girls about engineering and technology.
Back in the UK, we recently partnered again with Girlguiding North-West to produce six expansion packs for Clever Cogs, to be released over a six year period. Each expansion badge is themed around a different type of Engineering to further widen the girls’ view of the Engineering industry and keep the enthusiasm going that was generated with the first badge. The first of these expansion badges was launched on International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) 2019, and was themed around Transportation Engineering. This badge is called Clever Cogs: Going Places, and has been completed approx. 1000 times so far. The second expansion badge is themed around Environmental Engineering and Renewables, called Clever Cogs: Saving Places, and was launched on INWED 2020.
We have also this year launched a badge in Malaysia (remotely!), through Girl Guides Association Malaysia, called “Gear Up”, and we have plans to further our international outreach for 2021+.
Our aim is to expand into every country that BAE Systems operate in, to bring together the two organisations and ensure that more girls and young women are aware of the diverse opportunities available to them within the engineering industry. Throughout the years, we’ve had fantastic support from both BAE Systems and Girlguiding. It’s been an incredible experience and achievement for the three of us, but hasn’t come without its challenges. We’ve proved ourselves time and time again through the fantastic network we’ve made with the most enthusiastic people who continue to build us up. We’ve learned a lot, and we would do it all over again if just to see the look on the girls’ faces when they see their homemade volcano erupt. Or to hear the words “WOW, Engineering is so cool! I’m going to be an Engineer when I grow up!”.
G-Eng is the proudest achievement of our careers so far, and we hope to keep on inspiring more and more girls and young women across the world. We couldn’t be more grateful to BAE Systems for allowing us the freedom to manage this project alongside our roles, and for recognising the importance of such a pivotal initiative within the industry.
Being finalised for the Women in Defence ‘STEM in Defence’ Award has been an incredible honour for us, especially during such a difficult and challenging year. It’s humbling to be recognised for our ongoing hard work, and we’re so grateful to be considered.
Sophie Morris, Beth Howarth-Henry and Lauren Eastburn