Limiting female drive team members issue

Dear CD,

Full title: Has your team ever found itself limiting female drive team members due to lack of female travel chaperons? School rules dictate that female chaperons are required, of course, with female members.

Background: This year FRC3548 qualified at MSC to go to St. Louis. Our drive team was composed of a male driver, male operator and female human player. We did not have a mother volunteer to attend as a chaperon to attend Worlds. We made a team decision to not go to Worlds due to student logistics so the female chaperon issue became moot. Our team is only comprised of 10 members and does not rely on school teacher support.

Significant Potential Issue: Our sister team, FRC1188, did not qualify for MSC and hence Worlds. But, if it had, this team has a female driver and female operator for this year. Without a mother or adult female to volunteer to spend 14 hours to travel by train and to spend nearly a week with students and return 14 hours on a train as a chaperon, our trip would have been forfeited because it makes no sense to me to participate at Worlds without the existing drive team members who now have over 36 matches worth of experience. FRC1188 also has only ten student members.

I am thinking about next year and solutions to this possible roadblock for having female drive team members in regards to the Worlds Competition. Fortunately, we are a suburb of Detroit and we will not have this issue in 2018. BTW, this is the first time FRC3548 qualified for Worlds.

This thread can appear one-sided. As a FRC coach I select the most qualified drive team. For FRC3548 at ROHS, I had the same female driver and female operator for two years in 2013 and 2014 when we qualified for MSC. Upon graduation two years ago, the next season I had a male driver and female operator (2015). The female operator moved over to our sister team, FRC1188, this year and became the driver. I replaced the female operator (So) with a male operator (Jr) this year. FRC1188 and FRC3548 build in a common workspace and we break into two teams when we attend district events.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Identify female adult chaperons at beginning of season that can attend both MSC and Worlds. I have a hard time believing that this will be successful based on this years experience. The two mothers of the 1188 drive team did not attend MSC or were ever present for any mandatory team parent meetings. We were very fortunate that a previous team member’s mother who remains active with the team went to MSC and we were able to have the female student members attend.

  2. Pay for adult female chaperon. This results in more expenses and fund raising.

  3. Create a female driver / operator adult chaperon requirement for MSC and/or Worlds? In this regards, it could be someone other than a mother (Aunt, older sibling (>21) ) that could fulfill the role.

Perhaps bringing this issue to bear at the beginning of the season will help and the issue magically goes away but I would rather be much more proactive. We do have a significant number of male mentors on both teams.

So, has your team had this issue and how did you resolve it? Is this issue somewhat unique to our small team member status? Am I missing an obvious solution?

Feel free to PM if you think that is a better way to respond.

Trying to be proactive and solution based for next season,

  1. Pay for adult female chaperon. This results in more expenses and fund raising.

We had a similar, but not quite the same issue on 228 this year. Our base driver is an 8th grade student, and school policy doesn’t allow 8th graders to travel overnight without a parent present. Rather than change our drive team, the team opted to cover the travel expenses of the parent.

Ultimately, I think this is the best option - offer to cover travel expenses and possibly a small stipend for a female parent or relative to volunteer to chaperone. Competitive teams should make accommodations to make sure the best candidates can fill the drive team positions, and excluding someone for factors they cannot control should be avoided whenever possible.

Strangely enough our school doesn’t require a female chaperones for travel with female students. (Presumably the same applies about not requiring a male chaperone with male students). I think it is mostly a small team issue since from the group size we take multiple chaperones to competitions. It has always worked out to be coed adults.

For a small team, with only one member at issue, a parent that could share the room would be advantageous from a cost stand point. Otherwise I would look at it as part of the cost going to the event and cover it as a team.

We nearly ran into an issue with this the morning of us leaving for Arkansas. School called to confirm that we did not have a female chaperon going (we did not for day 1) and were concerned that we only had 1 female going with the early group (some left Wednesday, rest came Thursday). Basically didn’t want her in a room by herself. Thankfully another female student was traveling down with her parents that same day and would be staying in the room as well. So the school was fine with it.

We do have to keep an eye on numbers that we bring early. Thankfully our pit crew is about 50-50 so we have some flexibility to even out numbers for hotel rooms. We haven’t had a girl on drive team in a few years, though our backup auxiliary driver has been for past 3 years. We have 50-60 students on our team so its easier. I can see how 10 with proportional mentor/chaperon support can make things tricky. I would work with the school and see what they can recommend/work out should this be an issue in the future.

All of our overnight field trips require a school nurse present. We made sure the school sent a female nurse to solve any issues we had with finding a female chaperone.

That’s crazy, I’ve never even been in a high school with a nurse.

Our school has a nurse (almost all if not all schools do), but she never goes anywhere on any trips… wow

Sounds like different schools and districts have widely diverging policies. Ours didn’t have any specific requirements for gender of staff members and I’m very glad, although we had female staff and parent chaperones on all our trips. Going out of town is always tricky, my experience over the years has streamlined the planning. If any advice can apply through different requirements in different schools, my advice is: take care of the planning for your trips in the early fall. Don’t wait until February to find out what the policies are, and then scramble to make it work.

This is one of the few perks of not being affiliated with a school. If it were me though, I’d opt to pay for a female mentor to attend. Seems like the best-case scenario to me.

4901 has a similar policy as a 4-H club–no female adult, no girls on the trip. We solve this by pressing parents to fill out the volunteer paperwork early and identifying college students who are particularly into FRC to keep them involved.

One of the problems that came up with female travel with our team was that it’s hard to justify an entire extra room just for one or two members. To my knowledge we didn’t need a female chaperone for “advance” groups.

We have an unspoken rule of needing female chaperones, but it was never a problem because a physics teacher (a female) always comes, and we never have more than 3 females (we are a small team of 8-10 people)

We generally stay in ridiculously cheap motels :smiley: , so it s never a problem to just have one room for the two girls on the team.

There’s no “hard to justify” for us–if bringing a girl that deserves to be there means we have to have two rooms with one person in each (one girl and one woman chaperoning), that’s what we will do because they’re just as much a part of the team. We lay out our costs in terms of the total number of people traveling, including mentors, partly to avoid any “oh but she gets the room to herself so…” nonsense. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Exactly, there have been a few issues this year, where some parents complained that two girls were getting a whole room to themselves, and that they should pay more than the others, and not have the cost evenly split. The simple answer was “they are part of the team, if the team goes, they go. If you don’t agree to those terms, than don’t come. Simple”

You could suggest they recruit more girls.

ya, I do that too, but its fairly hard when you go to a school where athletics is a priority over education for most students :stuck_out_tongue: