Girls Get Together - FIRST Robotics District Championship 2022
Thank you! Your support allows me to spend as much time as possible mentoring young girls in STEM and providing them with resources to make their ideas a reality.
We just wrapped up our 2022 FIRST Robotics competition season and it was amazing! I have so much to share in future blog posts. Today, I want to talk about an event my students hosted at the FIRST Robotics District Championship held in the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. We had 90+ people in attendance (more than we had pre-covid) and we had a blast!
During the robotics build season, many girls feel lonely on their male-dominated robotics teams. Very few teams have a 50/50 split of girls to boys and many teams have few or no female technical mentors. As a mentor, I work hard with my students towards improving our working environment, increasing diversity and inclusion. It is not enough to just recruit more girls. We need an environment where they first feel safe and included. They need to feel like they belong. Every year tests our inclusion efforts as we work to educate and engage new team members in our inclusive work environment.
Not every team operates this way. As you can imagine, there is a mentality saying "we came here to build a robot", "we came here to win" and (my favorite) "boys will be boys so get used to this if you want to be an engineer". I wanted to share our spirit and enthusiasm for engaging and empowering girls in STEM by creating networking events at competitions called Girls Get Together. And, most importantly, I wanted each attendee to officially meet a female engineer.
During robotics competitions, everything is incredibly fast-paced and these amazing young people are incredibly dedicated and effective. There are not opportunities for networking girls in robotics across all teams at once so.... we created some! Here at the District Championship, we gave all qualifying teams from across Texas and New Mexico the opportunity to network with each other and to network with other female engineers attending the competition, like me!
The event was absolutely incredible. Girls were sharing stories of hardship. Sharing ideas. Sharing advice. And... sharing contact information to keep the conversation going!
Don't think this was a "no boys allowed" situation. Hardly! We had boys and men in attendance and it made me so happy. I love to see people stepping out of their comfort zone to better understand one another.
Last but not least. I am so incredibly proud of my students who worked to organize and advertise the event. I am so happy to see their smiling faces in this selfie. As you can imagine, there is a feeling of angst as the event approaches where you wonder if anyone will come and will they have a good time. This is the look of pride seeing teams from all over the state excited to attend and leaving with positive feedback. I enjoy teaching technical skills but what I really love is helping my students do things they did not think were possible.
Thank you again for your support and playing a crucial role in making these experiences possible!
Be sure to check-out this video one of my students made with footage from the event to help us advertise the event in the future!