Established in Mexico City, Panteras is part of the Universidad Panamericana’s High School, which has a campus for men and another for women in different locations of the city. For us, as for many participants of FIRST, a primary goal is to disseminate science and technology to transform the culture in which we live into a more inclusive one - especially for girls in STEM fields. Following this objective, in our first year we raised the question that you probably have as you read this article: how I can work to attract more ladies to FIRST and STEM being an all-male team?
We have seen some alternatives that have helped us achieve this goal effectively, and we would like to share them with you:
The first is getting close to your counterpart: a school for only girls. There are many institutions of this kind than you probably know about. It is a great way to bring science and technology to schools where there’s an atmosphere of equality among all students. In these new teams, girls have a better learning experience in the area they choose to endeavor at, since mentoring and working sessions are only with them. On the downside, they miss the experience of a coeducational team.
The second is by supporting other teams. There are plenty of FIRST teams and most of them are coeducational, you can send your audience to them if you see interest in joining a team. Usually a reference is all you need for a child to begin her journey in STEM. Remember that sometimes there are opportunities, but are not known. You can use your team’s open house, demos and expos to speak with girls about opportunities for them in teams and STEM fields nearby. Of course, if there’s no other team in your area that accepts female students, why not make one?
The third thing is to support remotely. Panteras has helped many teams, as the Space Stars, an all-
girls team established in Colombia, in a long-distance way. It's easier, not only due to travel, but also because of permissions and policies that some single-sex institutions have for accessing their facilities, such as use of a computer and digital media like Google Hangouts or email. A mentoring session, some advice or just a talk between teams can get back-on-track and even inspire students in another team to go further.
Finally, through the meet-and-greet events of FIRST Ladies, getting together all those interested in STEM fields so they can talk with each other, as well as with some other important female heroes and role models about the opportunities that exist for them and how to achieve their goals. If you are interested in conducting an event get in touch with FIRST Ladies! firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions? Feel free to shoot me an email to email@example.com!
This blog was written by Oscar Fonseca, the Communications Jr Mentor for FRC Team 2283, Panteras. If you are interested in writing a blog for FIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule.