Girls going into STEM fields are celebrated, and rightfully so. They have identified a passion and are pursuing it. Girls who are interested in other fields should be celebrated as well. They, too, have identified a passion and are pursuing it; however, they have a much harder time finding the recognition they deserve in our current society.
We have all heard the statistics: “18 to 20 percent of US engineers are women…,” “There are not enough women in STEM fields,” etc. It is true that women are underrepresented in STEM fields, and we want to create a more welcoming environment for them. However, that does not mean that every woman needs to go into STEM. A common mindset that I have encountered is that because I am talented in many STEM fields, it is almost compulsory that I seek a job in one of those fields. It is as if it is my responsibility to improve the statistics with my career choice. People with this mindset put no thought into whether or not I actually want to work in STEM, as it is just assumed that this would be a good role for me to fulfill in my future life.
While FIRST is marketed as a STEM-based program, it is so much more. It can allow people to explore and celebrate both STEM and non-STEM related interests. Aspects of the challenge such as the Promote Video are incredibly valuable as they allow people to blend STEM experience with more artistic skills. The mention of the arts in the intro to this year’s game video was incredibly important. It is good FIRST is acknowledging that it is more than a STEM-only program, as it had previously been marketed as completely STEM-based.
FIRST requires a level of artistic ability. For a FIRST team to experience success, it is required that they know how to do much more than simply building robots. Most robots that do well in this competition have a high level of artistic influence, be it in the construction of the parts, the precision in the wiring, or the thoughts behind the robot design. Programs like FIRST are so valuable, because they teach a variety of skills and promote the idea that a blend of skills in different areas is necessary for success.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that this is something that should be kept in mind. Not everyone in STEM events wishes to go into STEM-based fields. Both STEM and non-STEM-based fields are important, and they should be treated equally. To achieve true equality, one group cannot be elevated at the expense of another.
This blog post was written by Colleen from FTC Team 3595 Schrödinger's Hat . If you want to write a blog post for FIRST Ladies, get your spot on the schedule now! Click here to pick a date.