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How Women in STEM Can Inspire the Next Generation

children playing cagis
children playing cagis

Did you know that women make up only 23% of science and technology workers in Canada? CAGIS provides diverse role models to girls and gender-nonconforming youth, which can increase their interest in pursuing STEM.


Meet Lexie

Lexie knew she wanted to be a scientist from an early age, and by grade 11, she had her career path completely mapped out. A university degree and a post-graduate certificate later, Lexie was living her dream as a research and development chemist. She was proud of her achievements but wondered about girls who hadn’t had the same opportunities and encouragement in STEM. “I wanted to help young girls get into higher education,” she says. “I wanted to bridge that gap and be a role model.” Was there an organization where she could do that?

Making a difference

Lexie did some research and discovered CAGIS, a national STEM club for girls. Now she helps members aged 7 to 16 get a glimpse of science in the lab and workplace. She works with other volunteers to organize monthly events, like taking a trip to a bird banding station, doing a coding workshop, or visiting a university genetics lab. She’s even led events in her field of expertise. At one, she took girls through the process of making their own bath bombs, teaching them about pH and chemical reactions along the way. They had a blast, and so did all the volunteers.

“I saw I could make an impact,” says Lexie. “By showing the things I was interested in, I could inspire someone else to be interested, too.”

CAGIS

Going virtual during COVID

Throughout the pandemic, Lexie has continued to stay involved and come up with ways for kids to explore real science at home. She spoke to a national audience of participants at two recent virtual events. At one session focused on soaps and shampoos, girls performed three simple experiments using ordinary household materials, while Lexie modelled how to think like a chemist. During another event, she talked about the properties of fluids and showed how to stack liquids of different densities to make a colourful rainbow. She was struck by how absorbed the members were. “They were so hungry to learn more,” she says.

Being part of CAGIS gives Lexie the chance to inspire and be a role model. Most importantly, it lets her spread the message she wants to share: “If there’s a career you can dream of, you can be it.”


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