Calling All Young Ladies for FIRST Robotics

If you are a woman–good. There’s no finer thing to be.

Actually, I take that back.

A finer thing is to be a woman AND to be in FIRST Robotics.

As one with experience, trust me on that.

I’ll be honest though, I haven’t always had this piece of wisdom. I was once a naïve, lost girl without robotics. I joined just two years ago, when I was a junior. My older sister had joined our local team a year prior; my dad had suggested that I give it a try over the summer, and I took his advice come fall.

At the first meeting, we had to sign up for what sub-team we wanted to be a part of — wiring and pneumatics, programming, drive train, manipulator. Wanting to be on the most involved part of the team, I naturally chose manipulator — the sub-team in charge of the overall construction and design of the robot.

A few meetings later, when we finally broke down into our sub-teams, I came to a terrifying realization: of the twenty students on manipulator, there were two girls.

And I was one of them.

A very persistent part of me wanted to try another team. One where I wouldn’t be dominated by teenage boys. But another part of me — a much larger, even more persistent part of me — was going to stay no matter what.

And stay I did. It took me a while to grow comfortable in the environment; after all, I was in a build space, basically a workshop — a place women were not a part of for hundreds of years. I was surrounded by male mentors and male students practically 24/7.

After two or three meetings of standing around frightened, questioning why I was there, I decided to take charge: one Wednesday night —> Read More