‘Sorry’ has become one of the most common words women use. The word has lost value and meaning. I’ve noticed specifically that girls in STEM fields tend to apologize more than their male counterparts. They are apologetic when stating an opinion, proposing an idea, or by simply speaking. And why? Why are girls so sorry for just having opinions? The lack of confidence girls have has not gone unnoticed, and is further emphasized in male-dominated fields. While women are getting more and more opportunities to explore careers that they were once barred from, they seem to still be held back from reaching the top. Women have earned the right to be just as confident as men.
I realized recently that I would start off my conversations with fellow members of my robotics team with ‘sorry’. Whether it be a suggestion for this year's robot design, instructing teammates to write a log, or calling out the lack of participation of males on the team with ‘non-robot’ parts that have been deemed meant for girls, I would start with saying sorry. And guess what, I’m not. I have every right to assert my opinion as a team member on equal footing with everyone else. And so should you. Whenever I’m at a competition, I see girls being shy and passive, and I myself am guilty of doing that too. We need to stop being doormats, start vocalizing our opinions, and continue to be empowered.
My experiences have been shared with other girls involved with STEM, whether they are in a high level math course or part of a robotics team. I’ve had multiple friends tell me that they are often one of five or fewer girls in their STEM courses or clubs. One friend told me she feels uncomfortable answering questions and participating in her science courses due to this, as the environment is masculine and she feels like any mistake she makes will be quickly brought under the scrutiny of her peers. This causes her to prematurely apologize for being wrong before answering, despite being a consistent high scorer in the class. Another example of the male dominance in STEM was my friend’s personal experience. She went to one of the tech classrooms to gather materials for a home-improvement project. When she walked in, she noticed the room was entirely male, and they immediately starting commenting that she must be one of the student’s girlfriends, because why else would she be there? Even teachers have commented on this environment. One science teacher I talked to said that his male students were confident when answering questions, even if they were to repeatedly get them wrong, while female students were shy and more hesitant when replying. Though, he did say that due to girls’ thoughtfulness, the answers were more concise. For the girls in STEM reading this, know that you’re not alone in your experiences. Don’t let apologies arise from your hesitancy.
Talking about taking action is not the same as doing it. To stop the cycle of apologies you need to start by improving your own mindset. Be confident, because you’re on your robotics team because you deserve to be there; you’re in high level maths because you’ve earned it with your hard work. The advice I have received from my Robotics team captain, Olivia Yao, is applicable here: there’s a reason why you’re here, and it’s not for a diversity effort, but because people respect you and they value your knowledge. So don’t say sorry for voicing your opinion, because your teammates want your opinion. And if they don’t want to hear what you have to say, they don’t deserve your apologies.
Save your sorries for when you need them, because you owe no apologies for having an opinion. Build confidence within yourself and you’ll find that being assertive will come to you, and that most times your male team-mates will appreciate it. Work with all your peers to create an accepting environment for all. Women over-apologizing is common in other male-dominated fields too; as we work towards closing those gender gaps, the louder you’ll find your voice.
Sorry not sorry.
(Special thanks to Jesica Porcelli and Olivia Yao for editing!)
This blog was written by Rachel Margolin, of FTC Team 3415, Livingston Lancer Robotics. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.
We all know that FIRST has a huge and diverse community, but do you have trouble staying up to date on what's happening with your favorite teams? This blog will walk you through a few tips for staying in the loop on the events you want to know about!
Get a Twitter! Twitter is a fast and easy way to see updates from teams, and even from FIRST HQ! You can see pictures, video, and updates all in one place, and ask questions if you need to. By using the hashtag #omgrobots, you can check out everything that is happening in the FIRST community, everything from scores at an event to outreach ideas!
Here are some suggested Twitter pages:
Sign up for email blasts and the newsletter! FIRST sends out updates via email all the time to keep everyone involved in the latest news. By signing up for these emails, you can see everything you need to know, like that FIRST recently launched a new website and branding campaign!
Join a Facebook group! There are so many groups on Facebook for the FIRST community, whether you are a coach, team member, or alumni. Joining these groups helps to get a more broad perspective on the FIRST community as a whole, in addition to having a place for discussion around whatever FIRST program you may be involved in. This is a great place to ask questions and get them answered quickly!
Have more tips you want to share with us? Tweet us at @ladiesinfirst and we'll feature you on our Twitter page!
If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.
Hi, my name is Rebecca and I am a member of FTC team 5996 “Hyper Nike.” My main roles on the team are marketing and CAD. This will be my second year with “Hyper Nike” and the team’s fourth year with FTC. Each year our struggle has been finances, we get almost no support from our school. Even though our team has little expenditure we have been able to make it to the state level competitions for the past two years. Even though our team has been struggling to buy the most expensive parts (3D printers, new motor controllers etc.) we’ve learned to succeed the most focus on one aspect of the challenge. For example, in last year’s FTC challenge “Cascade Effect” the only thing our robot was designed to do was to push the clear cylinders up the ramp. Our robot was able to do this consistently which allowed us to make it to the state level competition. Many other teams wanted to be able to do each thing (score in cylinders, score in center goal) however, any fell short of that goal. All in all, if you want to be the ost successful this season building something that is simple and consistent will help you achieve the most in the long run.
Having limited funds forces us to be resourceful with the materials we have. Once you add up the cost of the field, building materials and competition entrance fees the price is easily
in the thousands. The only way to compensate this is to fundraise, a few weeks ago we stood outside our local grocery store and told people about our team’s mission and asked for donations. In about six hours we raised $500. We broke up the six hours into three shifts with two to three members of “Hyper Nike” at a time for two hours each. I consider this one of the most successful and simple ways to earn money for your team. Another ongoing fundraiser we have is hot chocolate sales, every Friday a few members from the team sell it for a dollar a piece. This past Friday was the first time we’ve done it and kids have already been asking us when they can get more. The most effective ways of raising funds are simple but successful, hundreds of dollars can be raised in only a few hours. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any more questions feel free to email me at email@example.com.
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As part of a robotics team, there are a lot of instances where knowing how to talk is a very valuable thing. The ability to convey information in ways that make sense to anyone who may be listening is something that my time in FLL and on my high school’s speech team has taught me. But public speaking is tough, and over 74% of the world's population has a fear of it. Whether or not you’re like me, and struggle to STOP talking, or you dread it; being able to speak well is very important. Here are my tips for being a well-spoken robot nerd.
This blog was written by Anna-Marie Mitchell, alumni of FLL team 29 Caught in a Brainstorm and current member of FTC team 9132, Polar Vortex. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.
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