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.