When the day finally arrived, we had a greater than expected turnout with over thirty attendees. Our keynote speaker was our coach, Mr Watson’s, professor for his graduate program, Dr Sandra Okita. Dr Okita brought with her several of her female engineering graduate students and they talked about their journey as women in STEM and how they got into the field. Afterwards, we ate dinner (pizza and salad) while introducing ourselves and playing FTC-themed Pictionary. After dinner we cut our cake, frosted with the phrase “Graciously Professional STEMinists”, and started our discussion. We soon realized that our discussion questions weren’t working well and decided to operate a more free form discussion. One attendee spoke about how although she was captain other teams would approach one of her male teammates for questions related to the robot even after she identified herself at the team captain.Others spoke about how people assumed that they worked on the business end of the team as opposed to the programming and engineering side. All in all, we view the event as a resounding success for the first time.
As we look to hold our second event, renamed “Gender Minorities in FTC” to be more trans-inclusive, we are re-examining our previous one. The main changes we made are to the name and the time allotted to our keynote. We felt that last year our speakers took up too much of the time and, to stay on schedule, we had to condense other parts of our event. A few of our team members, who do not identify as female, felt a little alienated by the name. We also realized that our name might exclude those who identify as trans masculine and, as they are also gender minorities, we wanted to be explicit about their inclusion. All of these changes are
being incorporated to create a less formal atmosphere and a more free flowing discussion. As we continue competing and collecting emails of those who are interested, we are constantly keeping an eye on how to improve our event from last year. See you in the spring!
This blog was written by Erica J from FTC 11943 Nighthawk Robotics. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!