The Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS) was founded in 1992 by Larissa Vingilis-Jaremko when she was 9-years-old because she noticed that girls in her class hated science; they thought that they were not smart enough or the right fit for science, technology, trades, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. They also had stereotypes of scientists as old men with messy white hair and lab coats. Larissa had a very different view of the sciences, largely from her parents, a research scientist and an engineer, who regularly used STEM to explore, experiment, and answer her questions. She wanted to share her positive experiences and role models with her friends, and started by inviting her parents’ colleagues into her classroom to do activities. She soon realized that her female friends at other schools had similar stereotypes so she decided to start a STEM club for girls where they could visit women and men in STEM fields to do fun experiments and activities.
CAGIS started with a single chapter and a group of 20 girls in London, Ontario. Now, CAGIS has chapters across the country and has been lauded for its excellence in science promotion by the prestigious Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion and the WCT Empowerment Award for leadership in inspiring girls to enter STEM. CAGIS has been featured in municipal, national, and international media numerous times including CBC (radio and TV), CTV, Global, YTV, CityTV, BCTV, TVO, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Metro, and Chatelaine. CAGIS has also been thankful to receive funding from a variety of sources throughout its history, including provincial and federal governments, corporations, scientific societies, and foundations.