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Why Are Too Few Females in Robotics? Could It Be the Robots? - Page 5 — Parallax Forums

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



  • kwinnkwinn Posts: 8,697
    Oh boy, you do like to live dangerously.
  • W9GFOW9GFO Posts: 4,009
    Why Are Too Few Females in Robotics?

    Too few? According to whom? I do agree that there should be more so I'll accept that as true.

    Religion is still a significant influence in this country, and religion does a pretty good job defining a female's place - which is not exactly encouraging of the pursuits of things like robotics. Obviously there are exceptions, but they are just that. Exceptions.

    I also believe that females are different than males. I don't believe that the number of females in the engineering field will ever exceed the males - assuming the population of males and females is equal. This has nothing to do with the capabilities of females, just the level of interest in such things. I think it's worth pointing out that pursuing an interest in robotics is the exception no matter what the gender.
    Could It Be the Robots?


    The good news is, on the whole, humanity is progressing. Rights of individuals are slowly equalizing. Gender identity, sexual preference, race and gender should play no part in limiting what a person can do. These are the things we need to focus on and support, moving our society forward - not what a robot looks like.
  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,045
    Good questions, and for $1199 you can get access to the talk "Women in Robotics" at AUVSI's conference.

    They've even provided a fill-in-the-blank email to send to your boss:
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    These 5 girls are doing well, still in high school. Watch the video at
  • WhitWhit Posts: 4,191
    Fantastic erco!
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    I'll have two more lady roboticists for you in a few years. Today our twins wanted to make electromagnets. They did, then went on to make full-blown electromagnetic buzzers. We need a first grade science fair, so we, I mean they, can kick some butt!

  • Well, without wanting to be stereotypical, unfortunately I don't see as many women in the field of electronics as I would like too. However, I see them in many other technical fields as e.g. chemical engineers, pharmacists, doctors. That is a good trend that I hope to see reflected in the fields of electronics and computer science.
  • Carefull erco, hate to see the knowledge they can accumulate by you being their father, be wasted in a Hollywood career.
  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    Carefull erco, hate to see the knowledge they can accumulate by you being their father, be wasted in a Hollywood career.

    They probably already have their own eBay, banggood, and alibaba accounts! :)
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    Rita is a robotist worth keeping an eye on. :)
    Looks like an awesome program at MIT.

  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    This girl shrieks with delight at the first steps of her walking robot. She's a robotics candidate for sure. Dad also seems pleased.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    The dog under the table does not seem so happy about it !
  • I still shriek like that when one of my robots finally works!
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    Normally I'd say that robot is so simple it's a waste of an Arduino, but her response makes it all worth it. Even if it's staged.
  • WhitWhit Posts: 4,191
    Great videos erco!
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    Why so few females in electrotech? Maybe they were put off by "WeatherGirl".

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  • Wednesday a parent of 2 of my students told me that in high school and college she was nudged out of Math/Science by teachers and advisors etc. In a very specific and believable way.

    It was an interesting conversation. First time I'd heard something like this. Up to now I'd only ever seen women treated specifically better than men in STEM.

    I've seen this for decades. And my wife is an Engineer. In my experience companies itch to hire and promote women in technical fields. Scholarships. Everything.

    Stinks to hear that sort of thing happened. Somewhat surprising to hear that it happened in school specifically since that tends to lean left (not getting political here). First problem I hear and it comes from public school and college.

    But yeah hearing this about the school I was pretty mad. I hope that isn't widespread. I heard this 2 days ago and I'm still a mad about it. I think blame gets blanketed around at a lot of us over something I've never even seen until Wednesday. What can we do about teachers/advisors nudging girls out of STEM? That's just plain wrong. It needs to stop.

    Also FYI this same mom hates 'girls only' STEM camps. Even once looked to take her daughter to one (and this girl LOVES electronics) and she said no because she didn't like it that her brother couldn't go. Another parent took her daughter to one and she enjoyed it. IIRC they did the toothbrush robot thing.

    But yeah, again, what can I as a tech educator do about public schools and universities potentially nudging females out of STEM? How do we know if this is widespread? This story really bothers me. Happened over a decade ago.
  • WhitWhit Posts: 4,191
    edited 2017-03-17 21:20
    Thanks Keith! Disgusting in my opinion...

    Recently saw Hidden Figures and was so inspired by the story. We need our best brains working on these things!

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    I think I have said this before here but it is time to reiterate perhaps...

    When I was a lad in what you might call High School, the boys did "metal work" and "wood work" for a couple of hours per week. The girls did "Home Economics", which was basically a cookery class.

    Such was life in England in 1972 or so. Boys were being trained to work in the coal mines and factories near by. Girls were being trained to be good wives and mothers.

    I got out of school as soon as possible, at age 15, to pursue maths, physics and computer science at the local technical college. Under advice from my school metal work teacher. Who said to me straight "Get out of here as soon as you can". Thank you Mr Bailey.

    Anyway, I was happy to find that in technical school there was 10 or 20 percent females. All keenly studying maths and physics and such.

    Later, 1976, I got to university. Again my physics and comp. sci. classes had a good healthy smattering of girls.

    Later, 1980 or so, in work there were many girls, should I say women by then, in the work place.

    Basically, I thought this sexual demarcation thing was fixed. We were living in a new enlightened age. Compared to my school days.

    Until....1999. I take a contract with Nokia in Helsinki. I did not think about it much at the time but there was not one female programmer or other engineer in the whole place.

    And then....Last year I went to a meet up of the new generation of software engineers. No girls to be seen. After the meet up we went for a beer. I was amazed to find these young guys asking "What can we do to get more girls interested in computing and engineering?"

    Where did it all go wrong?

  • Where did it all go wrong?

    I guess its is when not where.

    And I personally think it was in the early 90's

    In 89 the wall came down in Berlin, the cold war vanished slowly but nothing got better. It is not that women disappeared from education, the interest in education itself vanished. More and more groups of people got disillusioned, because - even after all the disappearing constant threads of self destruction - nothing got better.

    As I grew up, my father working as a teacher, was able to support a family with 4 children, without mom working. Not so anymore.

    A lot of women went to the active workforce, but it is actual easier now for a woman to get a job as a welder or truck driver as a position as a EE.

    Sure, there are 'some' female CEO's and 'some' female EE's, and 'some' female Professors.

    But WAY less then the 52% they represent of the whole population.

    It is IMHO quite interesting how bad academia is in that. The blue collar fraction was accepting gender equality way better then the white collar fraction.

    And there they went, instead of getting a university degree. Simply better chances for a job.

    @Keith Young
    Wednesday a parent of 2 of my students told me that in high school and college she was nudged out of Math/Science by teachers and advisors etc
    Happened over a decade ago.

    Well - over a decade ago. How is it with your actual students? Or, say ALL the students of the school/university you are working at.

    What is your guess at percentage male to female and how does that compare to the percentage actual getting a Job in that profession they are striving for?

    just curious,


  • msrobots wrote: »
    Well - over a decade ago. How is it with your actual students? Or, say ALL the students of the school/university you are working at.

    What is your guess at percentage male to female and how does that compare to the percentage actual getting a Job in that profession they are striving for?

    It's kind of strange. I've had Engineering* classes where we do bridge, catapult, etc activities. Around say 55-60% female.

    Robotics? <25% female.

    Microcontrollers? 50% female.

    Either I wrote bad class descriptions or I blame hollywood for girls hating robots.

    Honestly I don't know what's going on yet. They just don't sign up for robotics as much as boys. For whatever reason they're not interested.

    As far as profession, I can tell you like clockwork at University of Tennessee in a class of around 30 there would be approximately 3 girls in my Engineering classes. Fewer than that working in the field in my experience.

    Those that had jobs often were less qualified to be honest and got promoted quicker. Companies wanted more females in tech and management.

    Again, I can't speak to true statistics, just my personal experience.

    My guess is 5-10% females in Engineering. But maybe a lot of China/India females got in with H1B which wasn't common in my direct line of work etc (they accounted for a ton of the graduate students). I don't spend my time in labs but rather adjacent to management, shop floors, and technicians. Could be off. I don't spend my time studying these statistics.

    So yeah Robotics and also 3D Printing, very few girls sign up. idk why. Same with our top end class, Kinvert Mentor, where we help them make stuff for Maker Faire for example. About 10 students this semester. 1 girl (who happens to be in Calc III at CC aged 15-16yrs). Our best class, yet probably the lowest female turnout. An advanced class.

    Again, I'm not a great one to ask, not an expert on these numbers, just personal observations.

    *Engineering - Things were simplified etc. Not rigorous. More of an intro to get students curious, interested, confident. Obviously not college level, yet much closer to that than I've seen elsewhere.
  • @Keith,

    thank you for your detailed answer. I actually are more after personal experience since statistics are often hiding the real reasons.

    I left teaching long ago (over 20 years) but still miss it. It was a quite fulfilling time I spend there.

    I am very glad to hear that in most cases females are interested as much as males, but it seems that robotics and 3d-printing have something in common, since the numbers are different there. Interesting.

    My personal observation is that the number of females in my various workplaces is decreasing over the last decades. While programming COBOL in the 80's and 90's it was almost 50%, my last gig at CISCO (~2010) had one female and 60 male in that department.

    And I am not a high-class programmer, just a Code-Monkey. So its not about Women getting not as far up the ladder then men, they are just not there at all anymore.

    I really like your kinvert project.


  • WhitWhit Posts: 4,191

    Thanks for sharing this amazing article!
  • Just wrapped up a FIRST Robotics Competition district event. The emcee stated that, for our district (Chesapeake), participation was reported at 40% female / 60% male.
  • MikeDYurMikeDYur Posts: 2,176
    edited 2017-03-20 14:32
    NASA has been focusing on the people that helped make space travel possible. I wonder what their employee ratio was during the Apollo program. Never seen a woman in the control room at Johnson Space Center Houston, had me thinking space was a man thing when I was growing up.
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  • ercoerco Posts: 20,242
    Whit wrote: »
    Thanks for sharing this amazing article!

    +1. Every bit as inspiring as "Hidden Figures" and "Spare Parts", this would make a great movie.

    Maybe I'll copyright-squat "Slumdog Female Rocket Scientists" for future potential.

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