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
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