What happened to the "Patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism in robotics." thread?

Was it removed by the OP, snowflake?

Or was it nixed by the moderators?

I thought we were having some good discussion there, and I learned a lot about different viewpoints and issues present in the FIRST community that I had previously not been aware of.

The OP deleted it. I would consider it a closed issue.

Fair enough. I wish it hadn’t been deleted though. But if that’s the way she wants it.

Maybe someone should consider creating a similar thread but more for discussion of issues instead of a personal narrative.

How about this thread?

I don’t know what sort of discussion was involved the the original thread but I’ll add something.

I was a judge at a couple of FLL and FTC events last fall. At one event (probably an FLL event but I don’t remember for sure) I asked the team how they were organized.

The answer was: “The boys designed the robot and the girls designed the T-shirts.” I was so surprised by the answer I didn’t know how to react.

There are cached copies floating around on Google if you wish to read the original thread.

Seems that we, as an entire community, have a lot of work to do.

I’ve heard this more than once judging FLL. “The boys all work on the robot, and the girls work on the project.” It is quite disapointing.

I didn’t see the thread posted last night until it had been deleted. Some of the responses were disappointing, to say the least.

In general I find on most teams the boy/girl ratio is poor at best. I think FIRST still has a long way to change the the culture that leads to both less girls joining the team, and more girls leaving. It’s difficult to determine how many girls are put off by sexist attitudes both on teams and in society, but I’m willing to say that there are many.

The boy/girl issue will persist as long as society in general doesn’t treat men and women as equals (not just on paper, but in reality).

I try to encourage girls on our team to do building, but they (on average) are more reluctant to. I am happy though that we have several girls who are happy to do work cutting, drilling, building, designing, etc. …unfortunately there are pretty much only girls on the “spirit team”.

We can all work harder at reaching out to girls specifically. I find (at my school) that many girls don’t want to join simply because they think it’s too “geeky”. I find that they think FIRST is a bunch of boys sitting in a cave and never talking to each other.

This has been an issue for us in the past, but as you get more and more girls on the team, it goes away. It’s much easier for girls to recruit other girls.

I think it all sort of boils down to the culture you create in your team, and how you introduce new members (in this case, specifically female members) to that culture.

New female members may be hesitant to jump into power tools and robot building, and so may gravitate towards marketing, or spirit, or business/administration departments within the team. I always like to have new members hit the ground running so to speak, have them try to jump into robot design, or our off-season project, or start learning about power tools, just to see how they like it. If it doesn’t take, and they want to do marketing and spirit, cool, but at least they tried it.

I didn’t see the original thread, but I think everything is a matter of conditioning. I’m a transgender individual and I find if I ever launch into an intelligent opinion of some sort, people tend to gender me male more (no matter what the gender of the speaker). There are many many root issues to fix.

Surprisingly, even though our team is based at a private all boys school, we have roughly 40% girls. For the most part they are involved in building and they take particular pride in their all girls sub team that this year worked on our floor pickup (which unfortunately did not make it on our robot this year due to weight but they had a very similar design to many of the top teams).

We only have 2 girls that are never actively involved in building but we have about equal number of boys that are not as well.

Speaking as a girl, I’ve never at all been interested in doing PR or spirit. That’s not why I joined a robotics team. We’re never pushed directly away from design or building, but we’ve often encountered sexist attitudes from other students - not the experienced members, who know to back off, but newbies who seem to think they know everything.

Sometimes our lead mentor makes jokes about us not being able to drive. He never questions our mechanical abilities, and we know he actually doesn’t believe in whatever it is he’s saying - he’s an equal opportunity offender - but his jokes lead others to think that those kind of comments are acceptable.

Many of the girls on the team have grown so sensitive to this issue that any time someone says something that can be looked at as sexist, we jump down his throat. There’s a whole culture change that needs to occur to fix this.

This sort of thing isn’t just a problem in FIRST. I take Project Lead the Way Pre-Engineering courses at our high school, and this is the situation:

Digital Electronics: In its first term this year, I was one of three girls of fifteen students. In the second term, I was the only girl of nine students.

Intro to Engineering Design: I don’t remember how many students there were first term, but this term, I am the only girl among upwards of twenty students.

As a student aspiring to be an engineer, this is what I will have to deal with my whole life. I’ll be one of a few girls in science and engineering classes. For example, the boy to girl ratio in AP Physics, another of my classes, is 2:1. This is also how it’ll be in the workplace. I’ll be the only girl (or maybe one of 2! :ahh: ) on my team.

That is depressing.

It’s not that I don’t mind working with guys. I don’t at all - alright, I do when they make inappropriate comments about me being the only girl there. Not to mention the sexual comments from the boys I work with, one of the hugest problems I’ve faced in robotics and engineering classes. (Oh my god, she mentioned it AND bolded it!) The problem is… these are some real comments from girls that I received when I invited them to join robotics or sign up for Project Lead the Way classes:

“It’s too nerdy.”

“But you meet in the wood shop! Ew!”

“Sorry, I’m good at math and science, but I want to go on American Idol.”

“Yeah, I want to be an engineer, but I don’t have the time for robotics.”

“I’m not even going to college. I’m going to be a mom.”

“I’m not smart enough for robotics, and I’m never going to be.”

There is a serious problem in our society, but I think everyone on this thread - and this forum - is aware of that. As a girl in robotics, I have tried to recruit every girl at our high school I have met.

None have ever come to a single meeting.

There’s nothing wrong with going into a non-science career. There’s nothing wrong with deciding against college (although it’s perhaps not a wise decision in the long run). But these girls I talked to were smart. And none of them - and I have asked upwards of forty girls - even gave coming to robotics, for even a non-technical role, a second thought.

And what is society doing in the meantime? Telling girls they need five pounds of makeup to be pretty. Telling girls the highest thing they can aspire to in life is having a size 0 waist. Oh, no wait - finding Mr. Right so he can support you.

This turned into a much bigger rant than I anticipated, but my main point is this:

It’s everywhere. We can either accept it or we can try to change it. And I hate to be a pessimist, so we have to change it.


I want to take this opportunity to brag about our team - out of our 5 student leaders, 3 of them are female. The judges always seem surprised that half the pit crew/drive train are women, but it’s just the way it is. Unfortunately we have no female mentors, and next year we will have only one or two (out of 20) members.

I attend an all guys, Catholic, Jesuit college preparatory high school. Our FIRST robotics team is 15 dudes, and gee whiz does it show. Ditto for our high school and academy (7th/8th grade) Lego/Vex teams. Our school is, to put it nicely, bad at teaching us not to be overly-argumentative, boastful and yes, sexist, young men. The problem for my school and the whole robotics program at said school starts from within and crawls outward like the worst kind of monster.

As I reflected on my own life earlier this year, I came to the conclusion that first I, then all the people I’m supposed to have some influence over (as a co-president of the robotics and engineering club), need to work on treating young ladies (and other groups of people who are so frequently tread upon for whatever reason) with the kind of respect and dignity they deserve as human beings.

With that in mind, I’ve spent this year telling my teammates and fellow students to step it up. Be classy. Stop calling girls “hot” and quit objectifying women like they only exist for your pleasure. Competitions are one of the worst places for this, because, as previously stated, we don’t have girls in our school. It is too easy for guys to get caught up in their primal, animalistic urges, leading to stupid comments and generally dehumanizing behavior. It makes me uncomfortable, and I know that unfortunately sometimes the issues between girls and guys at these events go far deeper than a couple of guys quietly discussing just how callipygian someone on another team is.

I don’t know the answer for everyone. I know that for me the answer is forcing myself to overcome four years of drowning in an environment where casual sexism and homophobia are the rule. I’m getting there, and FIRST is helping me do so. Having done some work with teaching robotics to middle schoolers, I’ve discovered that girls are sometimes (that should say 80-99% of the time) orders of magnitude better than the boys at problem solving and teamwork. Even in high school this can hold true, as I saw at the YES! Expo in November, where two girls naturally excelled at driving/operating our robot. It is one of my great dreams to eventually work with an all girls FRC team in some capacity, because if there’s anything I love it’s destroying cultural stereotypes, and what better way to do that than a program expressly designed to change culture?

Sorry if this is rambling and incoherent at times, but this issue plagues my mind these days.

I’m quite proud to say that I mentor an all-girl FTC team (okay granted, it’s a three student team at the moment, but still)

To CLandrum:

Grab those genius girls and drag them to a robotics meeting! :wink:

Seriously though, that first step is the hardest part. It took some convincing from my friends to get me to come to my first robotics meeting, but once I was there, I was hooked!

They’ve been told that they aren’t smart enough for robotics, you need to teach them how untrue that is.

My team is in the same boat, except we have 4 student leads, 3 of which are female. Up until this year, our male:female ration was around 3:1. This year, we are now 1:1. There’s really no divide in technical to non-technical which is awesome. At my high school, we’re also in PLTW and everyone’s required to take at least 1 year in engineering, but 2 is recommended. Robotics is the varsity and junior varsity sport at my high school. Both FTC and FRC have a course at the school, which allows FIRST alone to reach 40ish kids, equally split between males and females. Keep in mind we’re a high school composed of about 380 students.

I haven’t personally dealt with sexism at any regionals, but I know in previous years my team has. Our mentors just tell that we know what we’re doing and that if people have a problem that girls or boys are doing certain things on the team it’s their loss to not see a group dynamic work so well.