Since 2011, SR1 has always had a robotics team; however, it was not until 2018 that the robotics team consisted of all girls.
“In a male dominated industry, it is good to have a team of girls, as well as a female coach, to help create change and breakdown barriers, said Kia Graham, SR1’s robotics coach.
According to 2014-2015 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of STEM-degree earning women is low, with women not even making up half the percentage numbers except for in Biological and Biomedical sciences.
| Percentage of Degrees Earned by Women in Postsecondary Institutions (2014–2015)
|Biological and Biomedical sciences
|Mathematics and Statistics
|Physical sciences and science technologies
|Engineering and engineering technologies
|Computer and Information sciences and Support services
|All STEM fields
|(National Center for Education Statistics, 2016)
For women of color, those percentages are even smaller. Looking at date from that same year, the percentage of degrees earned by Black women in postsecondary institutions was 2.9 percent, 3.6 percent for Latinas, and 4.8 for Asian women.
In 2015, women of all ethnicities made up less than one-quarter (24 percent) of those employed in STEM occupations, while the gap for women of color was even wider. Minority women (Black, Asian, Latina) made up slightly less than 10% of working scientists and engineers in the United States in 2015.
The women that are employed with STEM jobs, are still not making as much money as the men who are employed in STEM jobs.
In the United States, women in computer, engineering, and science occupations were paid an estimated 79.2 percent of men’s annual median earnings in 2016.
In order to get a higher representation of women, and especially minority women, involved in STEM, it begins with educating young girls.
In a survey commissioned by Microsoft, they found that young girls become interested in STEM subjects around the age of 11 and then quickly lose interest when they’re 15.
Within only a four-five years’ time, it is up to teachers and parents/guardians to nurture girls’ passion for STEM.
One way to help nurture that passion is for girls to have role models that look like them, and are doing jobs that future STEM girls would be interested in.
Lack of role models within future STEM girls’ own families is a major obstacle in itself when it comes to them graduating from high school and advancing to higher education, so having role models to help them pursue STEM fields makes it that much harder.
Girls also need to participate in hands-on STEM exercises. Participating in hands-on STEM exercises both inside and outside the classroom can help bring the subject to life.
Microsoft said it’s important to show girls how the material can be applied in real-life situations, giving the topics more relevance in their lives.
SR1 exposes students, most of whom are minorities, to careers and fields that they might not have even imagined before.
STEM is a major focus area for SR1, as they strive to eliminate disparities for minorities in STEM. With STEM being a consistently growing industry, with more and more career positions becoming available, it is important for SR1 to be able to add to the number of qualified STEM leaders of the future.
In an interview with CNN, a Microsoft exec. stated, “A diverse and inclusive workforce will yield better products and solutions for our customers, and better experiences for our employees,” it said. “When we encourage girls to pursue science and technology, we double our potential to solve problems.”