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Robotics Can Get Girls Into Stem, but Some Still Need Convincing

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Girls get taught simple circuits, but how they decorate their robots is up to them.

A growing number of girls are sampling robotics through clubs, regional organizations, and other programs.

Credit: Brooklyn Robot Foundry

A growing number of girls who are trying out robotics through school clubs or regional organizations, and in co-ed or all-girl teams, are learning they have a knack for it. Such programs provide a way for school-age girls to get exposure to the field while also discovering their passion for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), according to advocates.

Experts say the rise in programs oriented toward girls has provided new opportunities for young women to pursue robotics and STEM careers, but a lack of suitable role models is still a problem.

Terah Lyons, a policy adviser in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, points to the declining number of undergraduate degrees earned by women in engineering, math/statistics, and computer science in recent years. Lyons says girls interested in pursuing robotics still face cultural barriers, which they are often very aware of, and overcoming the gender hurdle will still require time and dramatic societal reprogramming. "It's tough to envision yourself as a leader in a field if you don't see leaders that resemble you," Lyons says.

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