Girls’ Generation robotics competition empowers women in STEM fields

Sydney Dybing, Opinion Editor

Three of the many girls at the Homecoming dance on October 18 had spent the day at a robotics competition – Girls Generation, held at Tahoma Junior High School – before running off to get dressed and go eat dinner at fancy restaurants.

Hopefully, everyone at Liberty knows about the robotics club now, and maybe that we attend competitions every year. However, Girls Generation is very different from other events that we went to. At this competition, the only people driving or fixing the robots were girls.

Many people see engineering and robotics as a male-dominated field, which is entirely true. Only about 18-20% of engineering students are now women. The goal of the robotics program FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was to spread the concept of kids studying in STEM fields, and leaders have emphasized this group becoming more diverse.

Girls Generation is the kind of event that helps make this ideal a reality. At a competition where it’s only girls driving the robots and fixing the machines as things break, it’s an experience that powers them to continue their work and feeling useful on their teams.

In addition to reaffirming the confidence of women already participating in robotics, events like Girls Generation draw new women to participate in robotics and engineering in general. Just at this event, the Liberty Iron Patriots had two members who were brand new to the club, and as far as I know they were hooked from the competition, and plan to come back for the rest of the year.

Women have been traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields, especially engineering. Continuing to induct women into this environment in high school and earlier is extremely important if we ever plan to empower women and bridge the common gender disparity in STEM fields.