Before entering FIRST, I’ve always been concerned about people’s expectations for females in the STEM field. However, my experiences, being part of the FIRST community, assured me that I no longer had to be worried about other people’s opinions towards female FRC participants like me. At the beginning, being overlooked or looked down at was inevitable, but people in FIRST love providing opportunities for everyone to enjoy their time participating in FRC. Gaps between female members and the rest of the team and the community starts to narrow as members start to familiarize with each other, understand each other’s passion for STEM, and contribute to making our team better as a whole. Especially when everyone is devoted to a new project, your ethnicity, race, and age no longer matter. We spend time together on the same project, believe in each other’s abilities, and consider everyone’s thoughts in order for us to reach our common goal.
As a female freshman in FIRST, I’ve been able to work with my team and enjoy my time during club classes, building season, as well as competitions. The FIRST community helps us to go beyond our expectations for ourselves. It provides us with more opportunities to increase our confidence as we build trust in each other’s capabilities. During my first year of being a member of team 6947 Savage Tumaz as both a freshman and a female member, I was surprised by the fact that my team believed in me more than I did: I received a major role in our business team and joined the drive team as the operator of the robot. These experiences were brand new for me, and I really appreciate how my team saw so much potential in me. I’m glad I made the choice to become part of FIRST.
Last December, our team held our first FIRST Ladies seminar. We invited Demei Lee, a distinguished female robotics professor, to be our guest speaker. Professor Lee shared with us her experience in the STEM field and the challenges that female students interested in STEM may face. We then spent time to exchange thoughts with many female leaders from different FRC teams, including many teams which have just started their teams this year. The increase of female involvement in FIRST, evident from the amount of female participants in our seminar, has given me more opportunities to learn from great minds and more confidence that females have the potential to be just as competent as males or even surpass them in STEM fields.