Women have a history full of suffering and oppression. They had to earn their rights in society as opposed to men who had their rights guaranteed from birth. It wasn’t until August 18th, 1920 when women were allowed the right to vote in the United States of America. On the other hand, most men had the right to vote at the birth of the country. Despite the fact that women were working relentlessly for equality before that, women continue to face discrimination in society today. In the workforce, women are not encouraged to go into careers involving STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) the same way men are. From a young age, I was lucky enough to have my father stress that I can do anything I set my heart out to do. He told me that no woman is confined to certain careers and always taught me the beauty of STEM education. Unfortunately, not every girl is raised this way. Most young girls are given dolls with unrealistic looking bodies and faces plastered with make up to play with as a child. Not only does this reflect a false representation of women, but it encourages young girls that objectification of women is not only acceptable, but a necessary part of success. Not many girls are given a set of LEGOs or told to build cars and experiment with the multitude of gears and motors. However, in FIRST, women are given the opportunity to contribute and show knowledge of STEAM in a comfortable environment. Because of this, it is an honor to be a part of FIRST.
Last month, our team traveled to St. Louis to compete in the FIRST Championship. We had an unforgettable experience and we learned so much from all the other teams there. As it is commonly quoted, robotics is “the hardest fun you'll ever have.” Upon returning home victorious after the competition, the mood of the team was different. We were no longer spending every waking hour worrying about autonomous or our alliance partners for the upcoming match. As the realization dawned on us that this season was officially over, we felt lost. FIRST had been such a huge part of our lives for so long. This feeling, commonly known as 'robotics withdrawal' has been felt by each and every member of the team. As a woman in FIRST, this withdrawal has never felt so good. It's amazing to know you're part of something bigger than you can imagine. In FTC alone, there were over 4,400 teams. 4,400 robots were built in total for competition; all of which is unique despite performing the same tasks--albeit some performing better than others. FIRST gives women the opportunity to pursue interests in STEAM and encourages a healthy, educational environment to cultivate forward thinking minds. Not every organization can say the same.
FIRST also teaches women valuable life skills. We have been given the opportunity to challenge the norm and go against the grain. Not only is it encouraged that you share each idea you have, but it is necessary no matter how far-fetched it is. Women's voices are heard loud and clear. The environment FIRST creates lets women be taken seriously without the worry of feeling inferior to others. Furthermore, we have been taught to trust ourselves, gain well-deserved confidence and to know when to show that sparkle hidden in each of us.
We would like to thank FIRST for giving us women the experience of a lifetime. One that will cease to be forgotten and stay in our minds and hearts forever. It is a pleasure and an honor to take part in such a wonderful organization. We will continue to be involved in FIRST and are curious to see what the future holds for women in STEAM.
This blog post was written by Tina Wu, Emily Weis, Andie Weiser-Schlesinger of FTC Team 3415. If you want to blog for FIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule.
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