Why Are Too Few Females in Robotics? Could It Be the Robots?

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  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,633
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hey Keith - Since I am the one that started the thread - I will respond.

    No ax to grind really. I read a few interesting books recently that told the history of Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace. I also led the robotics club at my kids middle school and have taught lots of intro classes to robotics classes - High School and adults. We have a great engineering school near hear and I know they actively work to get young folks to come to school there.

    When I started to see stories about the topic of lack of women in these fields - especially Computer Science and Robotics - I thought it was strange and interesting - especially in the light of the history.

    Before I was a priest, I was an Architect - we probably had 20 -30% women. At the Episcopal Seminary I attended - we have ordained women since the 70s (late compared to say the Methodists) - the women slightly outnumbered the men.

    Just seems strange to me that in such a growing and important field, we clearly lack participation by many women. Maybe it is beginning to swing back.

    I just think it is interesting. This is a Robotics forum (and combines these discipline that I love) and I was sharing posts about this topic here in one thread so they could be seen in case anybody else is interested too.

    I have been surprised a bit that posting these stories seems to draw more intense responses. It is no Window stinks or Linux stink or Apple stinks - but it is a provocative topic apparently.
    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • Keith, I agree with what you are saying. Who are we to push them into any particular career or area of interest? Our task should be to show them as many areas as we can.

    We should be exposing younger children (girls and boys) to a wide variety of pursuits and interests. Then let them pursue their own paths.

    By the time they are in their mid to late teens most of them have pretty much fixed on their areas of interest and will not be pushed in other directions easily.
    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Whit,

    I don't really consider it provocative, but it also slowly became that based on how it seems to be usually presented - basically as an attack on what I am for traits and actions I don't have or take part in. I don't like to hear things I'm uninvolved with are still somehow "my fault."

    I didn't know if this was an attempt to fix the problem or a soap box. Turns out it may have been neither, hence my confusion. Thanks for clarifying.

    Kwinn,

    Yep I hope they get exposed to as many topics as they can. Since I specialize in Engineering/Robotics/Programming that's what I teach. I hope they're also exposed to other topics such as sports and music. Granted, I think we need new Engineers at this point in time more than we need better golf ball smackers and pianists.

    That is why I tend to focus on 8-15 year olds. Hopefully I can find better ways to continue to engage younger and younger kids in Engineering and other technical/natural fields.


    Anyway, sorry if I steered the thread. I took it as an attempt to change a problem rather than what it was meant to be, a repository of interesting articles etc. Hence the debate. [/debate]

    Also, sorry if my responses seemed intense. Text doesn't always convey the light/calm tone with which I tend to speak. I had no intent to seem intense.
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 9,347
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    All is well, carry one. :)


    These posts are starting to get out of hand.

    Whit brought up a good topic to discuss. Let's continue with that.


    Infernal Machine
  • Publison wrote: »
    Whit brought up a good topic to discuss. Let's continue with that.

    Now here's a female in robotics: Femisapien. No remote control. Write your own punch line... :)



    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • What I find interesting is that none of our female members here chimed in.

    Men discussing why there are no females in robotics.

    But there are!

    I guess Amanda @Award (?) has more robots running then most of us. @Carol Hazlet(?) is a very cool older lady having really much fun with various creations of hers.

    Micah (@scanlime?) who wrote all the beautiful USB and Bluetooth stuff for the P1 and is a really impressive woman, is usually congratulated with, "well done Guy". But she isn't one.

    People just assume a engineer is male and a nurse female.

    But it is not like that. I met a lot of female programmers in my life and worked together with some of them. I do not see any difference between male or female programmers. No different style, no different thinking process, no different results.

    Once in a long gone decade of my life I was teaching COBOL. Sure with 20-25 people doing the same program you have some variations. But not much. But what you can see in reading the source is who helped whom to solve the problem.

    Each programmer has it's own 'handwriting'. The way to organize Names for variables, function, procedures. The way how to write loops. Preference of 'do while' instead of 'repeat until', use of constants or not, a lot of things.

    So I could see in the source of most of them class members who helped them to finish their goal. And the 'who' who did the help where males and females. No difference there.

    But I could not detect any difference between male and female coders at all. When you are running the same course over and over again with different people attending, you always watch your audience to improve your presentation or teaching style. It's just part of the job.

    You see lazy coders. You see brilliant ones. You see average guys and gals. But you do not see a difference between male and female coders.

    And all of this happened last century, as COBOL might imply. So women where less accepted in such positions as they are now.

    Still there got their jobs and earned more money in 4 month, then I did as a teacher a year.

    And with the power of the internet and forums, who really KNOWS if

    @MSrobots, @Phil, @Heater, @Peter Jakacki, (sorry I needed some names) are MALE? Any proof?

    Same goes for Amanda and Carol. Maybe they are male not female?

    Does it matter at all?

    SO:

    TL;DR;

    First:
    I do not think that there are to less females in robotics at all. They are there, way more as I mentioned, but maybe do not brag about it a lot.

    Second:
    It does not matter at all if male or female. We need GOOD engineers, no matter of what profession, gender, race and religion.
    (I could not fit political orientation into that, but it should not matter at all too.)

    Third:
    Education is like seeding a plant. You will not succeed with all of them. Some of your class members are simply to stupid. Some are not really interested in the subject, but have to do it. And some are interested. I am usually able to get the last two groups. And plant a seed. Get them interested, baffled, confused and then relived by giving a explanation.
    Just get the hook in there. And make them curious.

    Enjoy!

    Mike
    I am just another Code Monkey.

    A determined coder can write COBOL programs in any language. -- Author unknown.

    The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this post are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.
  • Publison wrote: »
    These posts are starting to get out of hand.

    Whit brought up a good topic to discuss. Let's continue with that.

    If you think I got out of hand please PM me about it.

    Myself and many others, and apparently you, did think it was a discussion, a good topic to discuss, and we were discussing it. Immediately before your post Whit indicated that it was a place he was posting articles he found interesting. I even apologized for assuming like others that this thread was a discussion.

    But then you say discuss the discussion, which we were doing in the first place, then msrobots continues discussing and basically agreeing with what myself and others have said.

    So I'm confused now what this thread is about. Whit just said it was a collection of articles. So is it that or a discussion? Your post confuses me and I'd like you to PM me about it since it seems to be directed at me.

    Anyway, I'm just going to sit back and eat popcorn until it's clear whether this is a discussion or a repository of articles Whit finds interesting. I don't want to get in trouble, and I certainly don't want to detract from Whit's purpose for starting this thread. Seriously. In fact for my past 4-5 posts I was specifically trying to figure out the purpose of this thread.

    Anyway on my end I don't think anyone got out of hand. I'm not mad, I don't think Whit is (are you?). The only person here I think is mad is my wife because I spilled her almond milk.
  • I'm good - Just thought these were interesting - I am sorry that anyone may have misunderstood any of the posts or the comments.

    I don't want anybody mad, worried or stirred up about this. I especially don't want anybody on these forums that I love so much to get upset or stay away for any reason.

    I am a guest here at enjoy the hospitality of Parallax. You all are some of my very best teachers and many here are robotic's, programming and electronic's heros. The team at Parallax has been generous to me and all of us - with time, support and brain-power and software, educational material and many times even hardware.

    I'd like to just let this thread end here and get back to the stuff everybody loves...

    The priest and roboticist...

    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • Whit, the Louisiana Whirlwind, always stirring up the place.. Whats next with this guy?.

    This is a wonderful discussion, AND a wonderful collection of articles, We can do that now, it's the 90's.
    Just like Gurls could be Roboticisteses now too, Well, if they all didn't want to be barefoot and pregnant instead.


    Be careful of over generalizing, Imagine the mail I am going to get for not backspacing over that last line. ;)


    -Tommy
  • IMHO, if one desires to meet attractive ladies, take a course in tap dancing.

    You will likely find yourself the only guy in the class with a dozen or more energetic and interesting women of all ages.

    But don't expect any of them to have a passion for robots.

    Wives are whole separate topic. They adapt to the care and feeding of their beloved breadwinner.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    All things considered, I can live and thrive without Microsoft products. LINUX is just fine.
  • msrobots wrote: »
    What I find interesting is that none of our female members here chimed in.

    FWIW. Carol, techlady, and I did chime in :)
    Whisker is a hardware and wetware hacker, and produces geeky content on a daily basis. Atdiy is a cardiovascular nurse by day and an electronics n00b at night. Together we're the Toymakers (Tymkrs) and we post videos/blogs on electronics, DIY projects, and whatever else we happen upon! Visit us at http://tymkrs.com, http://zombietech.tv, and http://firstspin.tv! Our projects are on https://www.reddit.com/r/Tymkrs/ and you can chat with us daily at #tymkrs!
  • Plus msrobots says Heater might be a girl too.
  • Publison wrote: »
    These posts are starting to get out of hand.

    Whit brought up a good topic to discuss. Let's continue with that.

    If you think I got out of hand please PM me about it.

    Myself and many others, and apparently you, did think it was a discussion, a good topic to discuss, and we were discussing it. Immediately before your post Whit indicated that it was a place he was posting articles he found interesting. I even apologized for assuming like others that this thread was a discussion.

    But then you say discuss the discussion, which we were doing in the first place, then msrobots continues discussing and basically agreeing with what myself and others have said.

    So I'm confused now what this thread is about. Whit just said it was a collection of articles. So is it that or a discussion? Your post confuses me and I'd like you to PM me about it since it seems to be directed at me.

    Anyway, I'm just going to sit back and eat popcorn until it's clear whether this is a discussion or a repository of articles Whit finds interesting. I don't want to get in trouble, and I certainly don't want to detract from Whit's purpose for starting this thread. Seriously. In fact for my past 4-5 posts I was specifically trying to figure out the purpose of this thread.

    Anyway on my end I don't think anyone got out of hand. I'm not mad, I don't think Whit is (are you?). The only person here I think is mad is my wife because I spilled her almond milk.

    Keith,
    That was definitely not directed at you. I was just trying to keep things on track, but this is such a broad subject that it could go in any direction so I will edit my post.

    Infernal Machine
  • LoopyBytelooseLoopyByteloose Posts: 12,537
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I would prefer to characterize this subject as mysterious and enigmatic rather than broad. And I tend to believe it is more gentlemanly to not speculate about what females are up to... at least not so publicly.

    FYI, back when I was in architecture school, we had no women. They studied interior design, and all the 'famous' architects seemed to marry a rich and powerful man's daughter.

    I changed my major and moved on. But it was mostly due to a lack of courses in actual construction management, structural engineering, and related business education (real estate law and finance). I later picked up those items elsewhere. I do have three years of history of architecture to show for it. Anybody want to discuss cathedrals or Greek temples?

    Sometimes I wonder why I didn't study interior design instead..
    But fools do rush in, don't they?
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    All things considered, I can live and thrive without Microsoft products. LINUX is just fine.
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,319
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Keith,
    Publison's post was directed at me, he know what I was going to post before I even posted it... He is that good!.
    Tymkrs wrote: »
    msrobots wrote: »
    What I find interesting is that none of our female members here chimed in.

    FWIW. Carol, techlady, and I did chime in :)
    It's worth plenty Tymkrs, techlady, Carol, and MSrobots too. Thank you for your inputs in this somewhat delicate subject.
    Take it from me and Ronda Rousey, Women can do anything now, If your hungry, it's your own fault for not going to the fridge.


    -Tommy
  • um, Tommy.....MSRobots is a guy, Mike. Probably a Michael but not a Michael like Michael Learned.......

    MOV OUTA, PEACE <div>Rick </div><div>"I've stopped using programming languages with Garbage Collection, they keep deleting my source code!!"</div>
  • Ttailspin wrote: »
    Keith,
    Publison's post was directed at me, he know what I was going to post before I even posted it... He is that good!.

    Now Tommy, how do you know I'm a she masquerading as a he. :)

    We don't know WHAT gender Moderator Monkey is. :)

    Infernal Machine
  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,633
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • Keith Young,
    Plus msrobots says Heater might be a girl too.
    Heater may well be a girl. Does that have any bearing on the discussion here?

    Every time I see this discussion about lack of girls in engineering of any kind come up I see the same arguments presented. Basically it's: "We should not be trying to coerce people into being or doing what they don't want to be or do."

    Usually supported by some suggestion that we don't try to coerce girls into being garbage truck drivers or whatever. Or how girls naturally prefer Barbies to electronics kits as children, which is not true in my experience by the way.

    Fine. I don't care.

    How about a purely selfish motivation on my part...

    Girls are beautiful and attractive and fun. By virtue of actually having babies they have a different perspective on life. I'm sure that single fact makes girls priorities in life a bit different to boys. And as a consequence their attitudes to many things.

    I would like to have more girls around my work place. I would like my work place to be more of a normal reflection of human life. In all it's fascinating diversity.

    Having only guys to work with for the past two decades or so is not natural. It was not so back in the 1980's



  • Well unfortunately I'm married and therefore not allowed to agree with you in that regard.

    But you do have a point.
  • You can never start 'em too early!

    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • erco wrote: »
    You can never start 'em too early!

    I thought you would start them with plywood...


    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • Whit wrote: »
    I thought you would start them with plywood...

    I did! That video isn't mine! :)

    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • I guess as a female in the field of robotics I will chime in again, but my opinion is only my own based only on my own experiences with other women I have met and worked with. Most women are not deeply enough interested in these things to put in the time and effort it takes to build a robot. They have other interests that they want to spend their time and effort in. In my age group (I am 68) they are very few and far between. Among the younger women there are more, especially in the high schools now. I think that a lot of women are now getting a more equal chance in education to learn the sciences and in the future we will see more women in the sciences. But that is the sciences in general. I think we tend to forget that up until now robotics was a field that very few people did seriously, male or female. Now it is the front and center science of our age and I think we will see an explosion of people of all sexes going into it. I started in the 1980's when there were not any robot kits to be had in the US and I had to buy them from Germany. MIT really started the popularity of robotics here in the US. Until about 8 years ago most of my friends, co-workers or relatives would get a deer in the headlights look on their faces if I started to talk about my hobby!
    One of the reasons I joined the Seattle Robotics Society was to have people to share with. But still, even with the open and welcoming atmosphere that the SRS provides there are only two other women in the club who are regular members and participate in building and programming robots. I see a lot of girls at Robothon from the high schools who are a part of a team but there are still very few who seem to want to do it on their own. In my own life I have never had the support of family or friends in this hobby. I was the kid in the basement who frustrated everybody because I did not want to stop what I was doing and had to be scolded to do my chores or play with the other kids. I am the same as an adult, my workroom is efficient and organized and the rest of my house looks like unsupervised teenagers live in it. But I also have a passion for crocheting, knitting and sewing and have won several blue ribbons at the Washington State Fair for antique reproduction doll costumes I have made and have written crochet and sewing articles for Dollcrafter magazine. My early interest in all things technical may come from the fact that my father taught electronics at Great Lakes for the last 12 years of his Navy career and I used to have draw schematics on the clear plastic sheets used in overhead projectors at the time. He built his first Oscilloscope from a Heathkit and I have been hooked on electronic kits ever since. Maybe it is simply a matter of what are the parents interested in? If a girl has parents where neither of them is technically oriented maybe she would not be either. And there is the issue of having children. When my children were growing up I had neither the time, work space or money to pursue this interest. Women give up a big chunk of their lives to raising a family, a hurdle that sometimes we can not ever get over. I am in my second childhood now and having a lot of fun playing with all my toys. I like to write and having been given the opportunity to write for Robot Magazine gives me a lot of the satisfaction of being considered as an equal that very few women are given the chance to feel. One important aspect to all of this that applies to men and women both is to not fear failure. I fail over and over again but I can not stop until I solve it. Some people can not do that, but to me it is part of the thrill.
    Carol Lynn Hazlett
    carolhaz391@gmail.com

    In the birthing of any machine there is that moment when it actually works. It is always fresh and astounding for me...............Red Whittaker

  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,319
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    That's leading by example right there. :thumb:
  • Having only scanned the responses, I have to say the question itself really implies that there is a "correct" number of females that ought to be interested in robotics. I don't know that that premise is valid. My experience is that there are not really any significant bars to a female being an electrical engineer or robotics researcher. My daughter herself as expressed interest (though I think passing) in it and has received nothing but encouragement from the youngest to the eldest generation and her teachers. However it's clear the detail side of things does not appeal to her more creative nature and so she's better at envisioning something 'cool' than actually getting into the details of building it.

    Robotics simply 'is'. People work on robots to solve issues that seem interesting to them to solve. This either attracts certain people to the field or it doesn't. If women are not as interested in working in that field then I'm not sure that's a problem nor particularly un-natural. It was like the laments of too few women in computers in the 90's. Most of the woman who started in my degree field in year one, were not there by year four. They opted not to continue. This did not happen because they were hazed and harassed by the nerds. Quit the contrary. Most of us furiously tried to help out the girls simply because it was nice to have a female face around. Most of them however just didn't connect with the field the way the guys did. Really, there is nothing wrong with that either.
  • There have always been far fewer girls in engineering. Throw in a few other filters like "control freak", "hardware store", "Radio Shack", and "programming" and the subset of the subset of the female subset keeps shrinking.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • photomankc wrote: »
    ... I have to say the question itself really implies that there is a "correct" number of females that ought to be interested in robotics. I don't know that that premise is valid...

    Bingo.

    My stance remains that we should not discourage people. We should let them pursue what they want. To imply that not enough women want what you want them to want strikes me as sexist.

    We need more Engineers. Some things you can add to that such as (Electrical)(Mechanical)(Aerospace)(talented)(passionate) Engineers. Others seem bigoted or _____ist such as (female)(transgender)(midget)(pacific islander)(blue eyed) Engineers.

    I'm happy to teach all kids, with all including girls, Engineering and Robotics. I won't artificially sway someone because I want some subset of people to want what I want them to want as if I'm carrying around Lady Justice's scales.

    Should I try harder to get one kid to learn Engineering merely because they have freckles, and (for the sake of argument) statistically freckled individuals are underrepresented in the Engineering field? My answer is no.

    Should I teach a kid who is interested in Engineering and they happen to have freckles? Absolutely.
  • NOOOO!!!! Not more freckled engineers!!! :)

    MOV OUTA, PEACE <div>Rick </div><div>"I've stopped using programming languages with Garbage Collection, they keep deleting my source code!!"</div>
  • Keith YoungKeith Young Posts: 475
    edited September 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    south-park-s09e11-ginger-kids_4x3.jpg?width=360&quality=0.8

    ...new South Park season! Sorry, back to the topic at hand...
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