Our team started 3 years ago with only 2 girls on the team, Ava and myself. Over the years we have devoted our team to youth STEM education, and we especially love seeing younger girls get opportunities to experience and learn about Science Technology, Engineering, and Math.
This year, Ava and I are proud to report that we now have 8 girls on our team! That number is still low—our goal is to have 50% representation, but we are excited to see an increased interest in STEM among our female peers. We attribute this increase to our focus on having girls in STEM be active and visible in the community. Like I said before, our team does a lot of wonderful STEM education, holding many classes, workshops, and camps for kids. Last season we did a total of 1,049 hours of outreach in the community and made 1,858 impacting moments face-to-face with kids interested in STEM! In order to be as welcoming as possible to future FIRST Ladies, many of the events we created we made sure were women-led, or had a woman-focused atmosphere. For example, we participated in several Girl Scout events in our community, led Girl Scout meetings, worked with Prairie STEM and JuSTEMagine to have a STEM Sisters virtual event, and made sure every event our team planned involved women in the planning stage. We also made sure to work with women-owned businesses in our area to get their input, help, and advice to continue reaching out to future girl leaders.
One event I would like to particularly focus on though is the STEM Sisters virtual event. At this event we had over 20 girls register from all over the country from Ohio to California to Virginia! We had women STEM experts and STEM college students present about their experiences being women in STEM and the challenges and accomplishments that they have conquered and achieved. We also did fun STEM activities from a curriculum that we created ourselves.
We wanted to know that we truly made an impact on these girls though, and to do that, we looked, of course, to science. We framed the STEM Sisters event with an experiment of our own: “Draw a scientist.” We were inspired by a study from the National Science Teaching Association. Between 19601980, The National Science Teaching Association asked 5,000 kids to draw “a scientist.” The study, published in 1983, showed that less than 1 percent--only 28 of the 5,000 pictures drawn--were of women. Even the girls drew men when they were asked to imagine a generic scientist. Our goal was to change this. At the beginning of the STEM Sisters event, we asked all of the girls to draw a scientist. Out of the 23 girls, only one drew a girl scientist. When we had them think about why they drew who they drew, it was eye-opening for all of the girls and also for us. Throughout the event, we made sure to fix this by empowering the girls and showing them all that they are capable of. At the end of the event, when we asked the girls to once again “Draw a scientist,” all 23 girls drew a girl scientist- and most drew themselves! It was amazing to see them believe in themselves as real STEMinsists!
The number of girls in STEM is increasing, and we need to continue this trend! As of right now, 13.7% of all engineers are women, while the majority, 86.3%, are men. It would benefit the world if there were more women in STEM. Girls can not only improve the world’s economy but also give STEM a new and valuable perspective. On top of that, the work that we do to introduce more girls to STEM now is not just in the present but also paves the way for future generations of girls to explore, learn and grow in STEM. One event can make a difference—we proved that—so our challenge to everyone is to get out there and keep empowering girls and making a difference, one girl at a time!
This blog was submitted by ALIEN Robotics, FTC team 19367 . If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!