Hello to our blog readers!! The FIRST Ladies directors wanted to address our stance on inclusion, as we have recently received questions on this topic.
Gender inclusion is vital because it recognizes and respects the diversity of all genders. It means creating an inclusive and welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and included, regardless of their gender identity. Gender inclusion promotes equality and ensures that people of all genders have the same rights, opportunities, and access to resources. It's about breaking free from stereotypes and allowing individuals to express their true selves, without judgment or discrimination. Ultimately, gender inclusion helps to build a more tolerant and harmonious society where everyone can thrive.
Therefore, the purpose of FIRST Ladies is to promote and support gender inclusion of all kinds through our partners and their outreach.
If you ever have additional questions about our stance on diversity and inclusion let us know!
- FIRST Ladies Directors
Being a part of outreach, I go to all the community events and work with kids from the ages of 3 to 12. The events hosted by Vertigo (FTC 18523) range from driving our outreach bot Plowie to teaching kids chemistry, physics, and how to understand patterns. When young girls come to these events, they all engage and have fun with the lesson, but it makes me ask myself, “Why don’t they continue with STEM as they get older?”
Growing up, I loved to play with LEGO®s. But, like many young girls, I played with LEGO Friends instead of the original LEGO sets. Aside from every build set including at least one shade of pink, LEGO Friends pieces were larger, simpler. Instead of complex mechanisms like cars, spacecrafts, and robots, I was told to make gardens, restaurants, and shopping malls. But I cannot fault LEGO for all of this. LEGO did not tell me that I could only play with LEGO Friends, I can thank society for that. From an early age, girls are taught that STEM is a subject not meant for them, that they are not welcome to play with the “other” toys.
This stigma around embracing STEM is no secret. But companies have been improving throughout the years, and many stand out for having consistently been a positive influence. Barbie has tried to beat these stereotypes by having the Barbie doll become anything a girl could ever dream of becoming. Despite making multiple controversial Barbies in the past, Barbie has served as a strong role model for young girls by creating figures that work a variety of jobs. When I was still figuring out my interests, I could look to Barbie to feel like I could do anything. I could be a pilot, astronaut, architect, or even the president.
My involvement in robotics outreach has allowed me to understand that I wasn’t alone in my experience and it’s important to help girls understand that they can participate in STEM. Childhood experiences with toys like LEGO Friends, while enjoyable, underscored societal biases nudging girls away from the complexity of STEM. Despite these challenges, positive influences, exemplified by companies like Mattel’s Barbie, are breaking stereotypes and offering diverse role models. While the journey to eliminate gender bias in STEM continues, these strides indicate a hopeful future where young girls feel empowered to pursue any path they envision.
Hi to all of our blog readers! We are the co-directors of FIRST Ladies: Mia, Megan, and Hannah. We are all high school students on FRC team 3504. Our team, Girls of Steel, is an all girls team based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Appointed members of our team have been running the FIRST Ladies community since 2019. We are excited to kick off this season with all of our current and prospective FIRST Ladies partners. In order to best connect with teams in the early stages of the year, us directors held a meeting for all teams interested in FIRST Ladies.
On Tuesday 9/19/23 and Wednesday 9/20/23, the FIRST Ladies co-directors virtually met with 11+ different teams across the world in our Zoom Meet-Ups!
We started the event by presenting a slideshow discussing the best parts about being a FIRST Ladies regional partner. We also talked about what we do as co-directors and the resources we provide to each and every FIRST ladies partner. You can view that slideshow here: https://linktr.ee/ladiesinfirst
We also got the chance to thoroughly describe the brand new FIRST Ladies Certificate of Recognition program. This is an award opportunity for our Regional Partners to demonstrate their devotion to our mission. More information about the program can be found in the slideshow above!
Our favorite part of the Zoom Meet-ups however was our Q&A and discussion time after the presentation. We shared our experiences as a woman in the STEM field and at FIRST competitions. We discussed how empowering being on an all-girls team can be, but how we can still feel excluded at competitions. Our personal experiences can encourage teams to spread the important message of gender inclusion in STEM activities. We also got to hear the personal experiences of the team members who attended the meet-ups. Their stories were impactful, and we are excited to help them continue to run awesome outreach programs!
If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on events like this in the future, follow our instagram page @ladiesinfirst !!
Want to contribute to our blog or learn more about our program? Contact us: email@example.com
My name is Caroline, and I’m a part of FIRST Team 2642, the Pitt Pirates. It’s an open secret that STEM today has a diversity problem, but just how bad that problem is might shock you.
Studies show that in America, of the 10.8 million people in STEM careers, only 26.7% are biological women. Compare that to the fact that 56.8% of the US workforce as a whole are women (as of 2022).
It gets worse. 80% of all STEM jobs are in computer science and engineering, and women are only in around 15% of them. And it’s not just women: other minorities are also severely underrepresented in STEM. For example, people with disabilities, who make up 21.3% of the American workforce, only make up 3% of STEM employees. Even when these historically disadvantaged groups can get STEM jobs, they’re still paid 40% less than they’re worth. There is progress, though: from 1970 to 2019, the number of women in STEM fields has more than quadrupled, from 8% to 27%. However, there’s still a long way to go... Get involved in STEM and FIRST so that women today can show the girls of the future that there is no reason they should be denied the pay, education, and job opportunities they deserve just because they’re a girl.
Here are just a few of our girls joining the fight for equal female representation in STEM!
Arianna was one of 18 students selected nationally to become a SWENext High School Influencer. During her 24-hour takeover of the @swenext Instagram account, she created creative and engaging Instagram stories that highlighted the FIRST Robotics program by taking viewers to the NC FRC State Championships. This included video interviews with 4 FRC teams that promote women in STEM, including ALL GIRLS TEAMS!!! (G-Force Robotics and Girls on Fire). She also interviewed Dr. Robin Coger - ECU's current provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs - about her experiences as an engineer. She also included testimonials for teammates and hosted a Q&A. This helped put a national spotlight on our team, FIRST North Carolina, and the FRC program. Additionally, she created partnerships with two Girl Scout troops through this program. It taught girls the basics of robotic design, provided STEM activities, and even taught the basics of programming. Finally, she wrote 2022’s blog post regarding the outreach that Pitt County Robotics has done.
Anisha was on the Pitt Pirates team and after graduating became one of our most valued mentors. She is walking proof that we can still be involved in FIRST even after we “grow out of it”. She says “ Being a Pirate gave me that opportunity both as a team member and now as a mentor, as I get to share my ideas and brainstorm new ones with students, spreading the message of FIRST and supporting our philanthropic passions. “ She has been involved in FIRST for so much of her life, while I am very new to being on a FIRST team. Even being new, she makes it clear that this community is one you can feel welcome in. She makes it clear that “FIRST is a wonderful example of how people of different backgrounds can come together for the common goal of learning, having fun, and empowering the future leaders of tomorrow. “
Carson has been involved in FIRST for 6 years. Currently, she is the Marketing and Outreach Captain. In the past, she has also done engineering and ran team interviews during her time on an FTC team. As Marketing captain, she runs the Pitt Pirates’ social media, organizes and leads outreach events, prepares team award submissions, and presents at community events. She started the initiative Pirates Provide, which raises both funds and supplies for people in need. Through this initiative, $400 worth of school supplies were donated to South Greenville Elementary School (a local Title 1 school), 11 hurricane buckets valuing $825 were donated to Florida communities in response to Hurricane Ian, and 15 personal hygiene kits were donated to Community Crossroads Center.
Dakota is the Scouting Lead at Pitt Pirates. She has been involved in FIRST for 7 years. As scouting lead Dakota collects and organizes data on other teams so we can make informed decisions for future partnerships, which helps allow the team to be more successful in competitions. She has also been involved in programming in the past.
Saline is a member of our Engineering group, Pit Crew chief, and Doyenne auxiliary driver.
Saline has been involved in FIRST since she was in 5th grade, starting with FLL through middle school before joining FRC. She is now a senior in high school. In the past, she was a design team member, then a part of programming, and finally found her place in engineering. She started the initiative GRITS (Girls Really In To Stem). GRITS is bridging the gender pay gap and creating a space where girls can feel safe and welcome while exploring the possibilities of STEM. This group meets twice a month with age groups from 3-8th grades. Saline hopes to use her platform at GRITS to empower future female engineers for our team.
National Science Foundation
Bureau of Labor Statistics
FIRST NC ED&I Newsletter
Pitt Pirates, FRC Team 2642
In today's society, the gender pay gap remains a persistent issue, affecting women across various demographics. The detrimental consequences are far-reaching, both for individuals and society as a whole.
1. Why it's Important:
According to the article titled "The Lifetime Wage Gap, State by State," women stand to lose significant earnings over their careers due to the pay gap. On average, a working woman earns only 70% of what a man in the exact same position would earn. If left unaddressed, the gender pay gap undermines financial security, retirement prospects, and the ability to provide basic needs for herself and her family. (All sources are cited below.)
2. The Scope of the Problem:
The gender pay gap is primarily fueled by discrimination based on factors such as gender, race, and education level. As stated in "The Gender Pay Gap" article, women working full-time in the U.S. are paid only 83% of what men earn. Additionally, female managers face a pay gap of 23 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, as highlighted in "Women in the Workforce: The Gender Pay Gap Is Greater for Certain Racial and Ethnic Groups and Varies by Education Level." This wage discrepancy is a clear reflection of discrimination within the workplace.
3. Financial Security:
The gender pay gap has severe implications for women's financial well-being throughout their lives. The article "Not-So-Golden-Years" reveals that women have only 70% of the overall retirement income that men possess. This disparity is created by the pay gap, which also contributes to delayed student loan repayments and lower retirement savings. Women are forced to work longer and harder to overcome these financial hurdles.
4. Racial Discrimination:
The gender pay gap is further magnified when considering racial and ethnic disparities. Hispanic or Latina women earn about 58 cents, and Black women earn approximately 63 cents for every dollar earned by White men, according to "Women in the Workforce: The Gender Pay Gap Is Greater for Certain Racial and Ethnic Groups and Varies by Education Level." The gap for women in racial and ethnic minorities is projected to persist for centuries at the current rate. This inequality demands immediate action to rectify the imbalance.
Women with higher education levels face significant disparities. "We Need to Address the Gender Pay Gap for College Women" reveals that women often need a degree one level higher than men to achieve equal earnings. This not only places women in more debt but also widens the lifetime wealth gap. Equal pay must be ensured regardless of educational attainment.
6. Bias, Stereotypes, and Early Interventions:
Many argue that gender pay gaps arise from women's career choices, but this overlooks the biases and stereotypes that shape those choices. From childhood, girls are encouraged to pursue lower-paying fields and are discouraged from certain subjects like math and science. The biased portrayal of women in literature, as evidenced by a study on sexism and stereotypes in children's literature, perpetuates harmful gender roles. Addressing these biases early on through education and empowering young girls is crucial to fostering equality.
7. Taking Action:
To combat the gender pay gap, it is essential to raise awareness and inspire action. Educating oneself about the issue is the first step. Engaging in conversations and spreading awareness can help create a movement for change. Achieving equal pay for equal work requires collective efforts and advocacy from individuals, organizations, and policymakers alike.
The gender pay gap represents a persistent injustice that affects women's lives in profound ways. By addressing discrimination in the workplace based on gender, race, and education level, we can build a society that values equality and fairness. Closing the pay gap requires concerted efforts, from raising awareness to implementing policies that promote pay parity. It is incumbent upon all of us to work together to ensure equal pay for equal work and create a future where everyone can thrive.
Deeper in Debt. www.aauw.org/resources/research/deeper-in-debt/.
Does the Gender Pay Gap Explain Why Women Complete College at Higher Rates Than Men? www.prb.org/articles/does-the-gender-pay-gap-explain-why-women-complete-college-at-higher-rates-than-men/.
Hamilton, Mykol C., et al. "Gender stereotyping and under-representation of female characters in 200 popular children’s picture books: A twenty-first century update." Sex roles 55 (2006): 757-765.
Not-So-Golden Years. www.aauw.org/issues/equity/retirement/.
The Gender Pay Gap. www.aauw.org/issues/equity/pay-gap/.
The Lifetime Wage Gap, State by State. nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-state-by-state/.
We Need to Address the Gender Pay Gap for College Women. www.bestcolleges.com/blog/addressing-the-gender-pay-gap/.
Why Women Don't Apply for Jobs Unless They're 100% Qualified. hbr.org/2014/08/Why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified.
Women in the Workforce: The Gender Pay Gap Is Greater for Certain Racial and Ethnic Groups and Varies by Education Level,www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-106041#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20in%202021%3A,18%20cents%20on%20the%20dollar).
Women of Color and the Wage Gap. www.americanprogress.org/article/women-of-color-and-the-wage-gap/.
This blog was submitted by SpiderByte, FTC team 10216. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
We are Team SpiderBits 17219, an all-girls FTC team based Laurel, Maryland. Our team mission is to bridge the gender gap in STEM and outreach is one of the most vital ways that we do this. As a FIRST team, our main values include friendly sportsmanship, respect for others, teamwork, learning, and community involvement. We promote these values in our community by making outreach a core part of our team. To us, outreach is connecting with students, peers, adults, and anyone who wants to learn about STEM and teaching them about it. Our main source of outreach is going to elementary and middle schools and teaching workshops about robotics. Just recently, we held a 7 week long club with Whetstone Elementary Schoo, located in Gaithersburg, Marylandl. By sponsoring this club, we were able to visit the school and teach a group of 3-5th graders about different aspects of robotics. Not only did we introduce them to our robot, but we started teaching them how to code, create 3D models, use the engineering design process, and how robots are used in the real world.
The lesson that was the most successful was the public speaking lesson. We thought it would be a great idea to teach the students about public speaking since we use it so much during our competitions, fundraising, and in all sorts of situations on the team. We had each of the students get into small groups and create a pitch to sell an extremely valuable product: a single paperclip. The students were elated at this opportunity and started coming up with interesting ways to make us buy the paperclip from them. Finally, they got to present their pitch to the whole class and see their creativity in action! With this activity, we were able to show them the importance of public speaking and be able to pass on the torch of outreach to the next generation.
Out of all the things we gain from holding these workshops, what our team found the most fulfilling was the feeling of teaching these students about a subject that we are all so passionate about. Going from school to school, making connections with students and teachers alike, as well as hearing about the effects we have on the kids we teach are the best parts of the whole experience. They make all the time and effort put into organizing these events worth it in the end.
This blog was submitted by Aditi C. and Pooja D. of Spiderbits, FTC team 17219 . If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
Greetings, We are Team 4085! Established with just a handful of members in 2011, our team today has grown significantly to almost 50 members. We owe our growth and success over the past decade to FIRST, as well as the guidance and mentorship provided by our coaches, mentors, and sponsors. Currently, we are a team of 62 members, including mentors, and are honored to uphold FIRST's values. We are split into 9 subteams— some of which being under a marketing category, and the rest being under a build category. The subteams include mechanical, electrical, software, fablab, tactical, business, outreach, media and design. Our team is committed to promoting STEM education among young people, which we view as a key objective of FIRST.
We take pride in being a student-led team, with various sub-teams collaborating and communicating effectively throughout the build and event seasons. Each subteam is supervised by a designated leader, ensuring that all tasks are carried out efficiently. This past season we worked on ways to restructure our team to more effectively ensure that the sub-teams we have are working for our members. Each year during the robotics season and event season, we spend time focusing on how we can improve our team to be more efficient and successful.
Our outreach efforts extend beyond our team, as we endeavor to promote FIRST's message to the broader Columbus Ohio community. For instance, we partnered with StepAhead Tech to host a seminar aimed at introducing minority populations to STEM. We acknowledge that underrepresented communities often face challenges in STEM fields, and we are committed to addressing this issue. As such, we established a Robotics club at a local elementary school with a 71% minority enrollment, where we instruct over 90 students in STEM-related skills.
Our outreach events frequently center on our Girls in STEM initiative, which aims to encourage more girls to pursue STEM fields. We have successfully helped several troops earn STEM-related badges this year alone, inspiring a new generation of leaders. Additionally, we host Girls in STEM events explicitly designed for girls. Our team encourages girls in our community to explore STEM education along with various STEM fields.In the latest 2023 robotics season,team 4085 is made up of 46% of girls. In addition, for the upcoming season our CPM (Chief Project Manager) is a female who is taking the lead and initiative to drive our team to be the best we can be for next year. While there was tough competition for our leadership roles, for the next season our leadership team is made up of 50% of females! Additionally, we also have outreach events that target the younger generation of Reynoldsburg. We are constantly interacting with our youth through our outreach programs, which include some such as our robotics club at local elementary school Herbert Mills, our appearance at the city hall Christmas on the Town event, COSI (Center of Science and Industry, a Science museum here in central Ohio), and more. We also try to reach out to immigrants in our community, with the majority of the youth at these events being racial or ethnic minorities. This contributes to our newest outreach initiative, R.I.S.E. (Refugee and Immigrant STEM Experience)!
While team 4085 does not limit itself to just the female population, we strongly believe that everyone from anywhere deserves to explore the STEM experience. Rise, Tobi’s Toys, and Girls in STEM are all outreach initiatives that have been a part of team 4085 for the longest time. These outreach events are all ways to pave the way for the next generation of our team. Team 4085 is always up to date on posting about our events on our Instagram @techdiff4085.
This blog was submitted by Technical Difficulties, FRC team 4085. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
There are many inspiring women in STEM, both historically and in modern times. From cryptology, space exploration, programming, and mechanical engineering, these women were pioneers who paved pathways for more young girls to follow in their footsteps.
Ada Lovelace lived in England from 1815 to 1852. She was a mathematician and considered to be “the first computer programmer” for her analogies and visions of how a computer would work.
Her father, Lord Byron, was a famous poet who left both her and her mother when she was young. Her mother strongly disliked the idea of Ada following in her father's footsteps and encouraged her to follow her mathematical and scientific interests. Her mother loved these subjects and wanted her daughter to feel the same way. During the 19th century, women did not study math and science, but Ada’s mom insisted that her daughter be taught by skilled tutors in these fields. To encourage Ada’s STEM interests, she and her mother visited factories to learn about the mechanics of manufacturing devices, which was rare for women at this time. Here, Ada learned about the Jacquard loom, which is a machine that weaves patterns into fabric based on instructions from a punch card.
Later, Ada Lovelace met Charles Babbage. At the time, he was working on a mechanical calculator called the Difference Engine. She became a translator for Babbage, who only spoke English, and his French engineer. While doing this, she added her annotations and ideas to his work. She developed an analogy between the Analytical Engine, which was a more advanced mechanical calculator, and a weaving machine. She compared how they both followed patterns and code to perform a task. Unfortunately, Babbage didn’t get enough funding to finish the Analytical Engine and Lovelace’s notes were not used at the time.
Later, her notes were rediscovered, and her ideas deemed her the first computer programmer. Contrary to what many people of her time believed, she recognized the real potential of computers, besides calculating numbers. Although she was not able to program in a modern way, the principles she discussed in her notes were similar to how future computers would function. They were a big frontier in the Computer-Science field.
Genevieve Grotjan Feinstein
In high school, Genevieve Grotjan Feinstein excelled in all subjects, especially math. She graduated from University at Buffalo with a degree in mathematics. She worked as a substitute teacher, tutor, assistant to her professors, and delivered lectures on mathematical topics. After this, she hadc trouble finding a job teaching math, but was hired by the Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) for a civilian cryptology job.
She worked with a team to decode “PURPLE,” the encoded messages sent by Japan during WWII. In 1940, while analyzing the intercepted messages, she found repeating patterns of strings of words. Her discoveries sparked the development of a machine that decoded these messages. This provided crucial information to the military.
In 1943, Feinstein started working on the project “Verona.” She created a process to figure out when a key in an encoded message was reused. This helped decrypt messages from the KGB, the former Russian Intelligence Agency. This process provided more crucial intelligence to the US.
After working in the Cryptology field in the government for seven years, she resigned and started working as a mathematics professor at George Mason University. Her efforts to decode “PURPLE” were a major help to the United States and changed the course of History.
In 1956, Mae Jemison was born in Alabama but grew up in Chicago. From an early age, she knew she wanted to go to space. There were no female astronauts in space when she was growing up, but she was inspired by Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, who was played by Nichelle Nichols.
She excelled in high school, graduated at sixteen, and went to Stanford. She double majored in chemical engineering and African-American studies. After graduating, she went to medical school, during which she went to Cuba and led a scientific study for the American Medical Student Association. After this, Jemison worked in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. She is fluent in Russian, Japanese, and Swahili, allowing her to manage healthcare for the Peace Corps. She came back to the US and worked as a general practitioner in Los Angeles while taking graduate-level engineering classes.
She applied to the astronaut program at NASA but after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, NASA paused accepting new astronauts. The next year, she reapplied and was selected with fourteen others out of the 2000+ applicants. She was assigned to the STS-47 crew and worked as the mission specialist. They orbited Earth 127 times in eight days. She left NASA after six years of being an astronaut.
As the first African American female astronaut, she started other movements and groups to encourage science, math, space travel, and social change. In addition to this, she guest-starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation and worked as an environmental studies teacher at Dartmouth College. Her accomplishments revolutionized the future of young African-American girls.
This blog was submitted by Spiderbits, FTC team 17219 . If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
Once you graduate high school, your FIRST experience is over, right? Not quite. FIRST maintains a strong impact on students’ lives, even after they have graduated from the program. FIRST robotics allows students to prosper in college both mechanically and technically, but also allows them to connect with the STEM community through principal values such as gracious professionalism. Marlbots alums Nina Fischer ‘22 and Jordan Ellis ‘22 discussed how their experiences on an FTC team have shaped their current college careers.
The FTC program is an opportunity to introduce students to the world of engineering and robotics. Participation on a team allows students to learn about every aspect of engineering from the design process to fabrication. Nina explained how joining an FTC team sparked her own passion for engineering as well as enabled her to develop skills she would use in college courses, such as computer-aided design, 3-D printing, and laser cutting. Jordan built onto this idea, stating that FTC provided a springboard for their future pursuit of engineering in college. For example, they joined a collegiate motorsports team, and they have been able to apply knowledge gained from the Marlbots to the motorsports team. Their previous work in documenting the design process and drawing of the robot for the Marlbots has enabled them to successfully perform these tasks on their collegiate team. This past knowledge from FIRST has allowed them to succeed as a member of the team as well as the larger engineering community.
Nina and Jordan also revealed how participating on the Marlbots, a team of girls and gender minorities, allowed them to thrive in the college engineering space, which can be very daunting. The Marlbots team fosters inclusion and prioritizes every team member’s voice, allowing members to feel supported and uplifted by one another. Jordan referenced how this environment of support is still helping their confidence now in college:“I know that I can trust myself and even when I make mistakes, I can work around those.” Nina also explained that being on a team of gender minorities and girls before heading to college to study a male-dominated field bolstered her trust in herself and prepared her for this environment: “Marlbots is a safe space that sets you up for the real world.”
Gracious professionalism, a founding ideal of FIRST, has also significantly influenced graduates’ interactions with the larger STEM community in college. Both Nina and Jordan explained that many college engineering students participated in FIRST teams during high school, and that this shared experience provided a basis for camaraderie and respect. FIRST provides a space where every student has an equal opportunity to be heard, as well as be a leader and learn from others. Outreach within and as outside of the STEM community allows for the fostering of a learning culture and the formation of deep connections through both learning from and helping others. Nina stated that from FIRST “everyone takes away the mindset that they want to help and they want to spread their knowledge”, and that this mindset becomes “universal” throughout the engineering community as these ideas spread. Furthermore, this mindset impacts the life of every past or present FIRST participant, as Nina continued to explain that despite the competitive environment, “you can learn from each other, and that will make you a better engineer.” Jordan summed up this idea of FIRST, stating, “It truly is more than robots”.
This blog was submitted by Victoria P. of Marlbots, FTC team 3526. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
I was first introduced to robotics through a youth robotics program hosted by my future FRC team, 1678. As I learned how to design, build, and program robots, my curiosity and interest for STEM slowly grew. But it was not until my youth robotics mentor, a high school student on Citrus Circuits, encouraged me to attend a Women in STEM Empowerment (WISE) event (previously Girl Powered event) that I ever felt truly inspired and empowered to pursue my passions.
The first thing I noticed at the WISE event was the FRC robot in the middle of the room. I was fascinated by it, pondering how it was even possible to construct something so incredible. As I bounced back and forth between the different STEM activities, talking to all the different female volunteers, I realized that it was the first time I ever saw that many girls in one room participating in STEM activities—I was surrounded mostly by my male peers up until that point. All the female volunteers spoke so highly about their experiences on the team and encouraged me to further my STEM passion and join the team.
Fast forward to the present, where I have come full circle. As the current lead of our Diversity in STEM program, I organize monthly WISE events and other outreach activities with the goal of inclusion and equity for all in STEM. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to see this the program grow at such a fast rate, as our monthly turnout is double what it was a year ago. The initiative has been able to grow and expand into neighboring communities to reach more students than ever before. For the past two years I have also had the opportunity to mentor three different youth robotics teams. It has allowed me to reflect on my previous challenges as a girl in STEM and how it has only encouraged me to inspire as many future leaders as possible. I realize the importance of having role models and mentors that empower and inspire you. For me, these role models were the WISE volunteers and my youth robotics mentor. They provided me with enough support to pursue my passions and grow. I now aim to impact people the way they impacted me, giving others the confidence to support their dreams.
I hope that my journey will encourage all to get involved in any outreach programs possible. Whether you are a mentor, student, or volunteer, there are so many different ways to ensure that the STEM field is as inclusive and representative of all.
This blog was submitted by Citrus Circuts, FRC team 1678. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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