Making a Difference: Canadian Association for Girls in Science - January 2011

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At age nine, Larissa Vingilis-Jaremko set out to change the opinions of girls everywhere by showing them that science can be both interesting and fun. Larissa, the daughter of a scientist and engineer, had always been interested in science, but noticed that most girls her age found it boring and difficult. Recognizing the need to educate young girls about mathematics and science, and showcase the many opportunities in these fields, Larissa founded the Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS) in 1992.

Now in its 18th year, CAGIS is a network of girls aged 7-16 who have a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (a group of subjects abbreviated as STEM) and want to learn more. CAGIS works to promote, educate and support interest and confidence in STEM among girls. Across Canada, CAGIS chapter members meet monthly to explore STEM with fun, hands-on activities led by professionals specializing in many different fields.

As a strong supporter of CAGIS and innovative school to career connections, the Halton Industry Education Council (HIEC) was invited along with CAGIS’ Oakville Chapter during a tour of the Goodrich Landing Gear plant in Oakville.

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The girls listen in during the Goodrich presentation.

“Goodrich Landing Gear was so generous to open their very secure doors and plant to our girls,” said Volunteer Oakville Community Chapter Coordinator Jennifer Curry Jahnke.

Goodrich makes landing gear for major airlines and employs some of the most highly skilled and trained aerospace engineers, both men and women. Their landing gear can be found on planes all around the world.

“The opportunity to show the girls this type of environment that destroys gender-based stereotypes, and introduces them to women that are accessible and real, increases the likelihood that they may pursue this type of education as a future career,” said Jennifer.

During the presentation and tour, Director of Government Relations Tim Whittier explained how they design, build and test all of their products. “Our biggest product is the A380 (double decker plane) landing gear,” Tim explained during the plant tour.

“Our Oakville plant began with just 25 engineers, now we have more than 125 working at our plant of more than 800 people.”

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Tim talks to the young girls about Goodrich.

Some of those 125 engineers were on hand to talk about their careers and work at Goodrich.

“We had such a great response from the girls, they truly enjoyed themselves and even reported that this event was the best one yet!” said Jennifer.

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Two CAGIS Oakville Chapter members get ready for their plant tour by donning safety glasses and ear plugs. (From left to right: Charlotte Jackson and Hailey Jeffries)

After the event Tim spoke with HIEC staff about how he hopes “the success of our female engineers will inspire some of the girls to pursue their own aspirations recognizing that they too can attain challenging and rewarding careers if they choose to pursue their interests in science, math and technology. We would encourage any other interested employers to open their doors and provide an opportunity for these students to gain insights into what they do and the career opportunities that exist.”

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Tim shows the girls how landing gear is made.

HIEC has invited Larissa to speak at their upcoming Women as Career Coaches (WACC) event on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at the Burlington Convention Centre. Larissa will be featured as a Spotlight Speaker at the free-to-attend intergenerational mentoring event that encourages community members to act as career coaches and discuss their goals, career paths, and accomplishments with younger generations. To learn more about this event, or to register visit

Want to learn more about CAGIS? Want to get involved? Visit their site at Girls age 7-16 can become members by registering online and paying a yearly membership fee of only $40! Your membership includes a quarterly newsletter, a password to the online ‘Club House’ where you can read about science experiments, play games and communicate with other members. Questions? Email CAGIS at

Want to offer youth an opportunity like Goodrich? Go to create an employer profile and connect with students all across your community. is a single point of contact for employers looking to get involved with short, medium and long-term experiential learning opportunities in Ontario. The system, a no-cost service developed by HIEC, makes it easy for businesses and other organizations to make the connection with educational programs offered to senior elementary and secondary school students. In less than a minute, an employer can be connected to a local Passport to Prosperity Coordinator who will personally assist the employer in finding the right experiential learning opportunity for them.

HIEC would like to thank CAGIS and Goodrich Landing Gear for allowing us along for the ride.


About HIEC

Established November 17, 1989, as a not-for-profit organization, HIEC is a joint venture among industry, education and community partners in the Halton Region. At HIEC, our goal is to enhance career education and create the best opportunities for youth. For 21 years, HIEC has brought business and education together with the determined vision of ‘Inspiring Informed Career Decisions’ in Halton.

HIEC has delivered career education programs to more than 100,000 students in Halton and has five websites. To learn more please visit,,,, and HIEC is provincially recognized for its wide-reaching, informative career education programs, innovative career resource centre, and our overall commitment to helping young people make successful transitions from school to career.


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