Look around places with a lot of engineers and scientists, like the office of an engineering firm or a conference for programmers or a FIRST Robotics competition. Notice anything? More likely than not, the people you see are mostly men. While advancements have been made by women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, the gender gap is still wide.
But that’s changing.
For International Women’s Day, DTE is celebrating our commitment to women in STEM. Not only is it important to support women as they make their way into male-dominated fields, but it’s important to support diverse ideas and inclusivity in the workforce.
Three of the 23 FIRST Robotics teams that our company sponsors are all-girl teams: the Riveters from Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, the Pink Panthers from the Detroit International Academy of Women, and the SaddleBots from Regina High School in Warren. FIRST is an important program for young women, as it gives them both hands-on experience in STEM subjects and leadership skills to carry into college and beyond.
“I think it’s really important for high school girls to see other women in engineering,” says Karen Hansen, mentor for the DTE-sponsored Riveters, in the video below. High school girls can learn from mentors, coaches and other students interested in these fields, and gain insight into their future careers.
FIRST mentors and DTE engineers Kelly Johnson and Nisha Patel remember that gender divide when they were in college. They both note that there were fewer and fewer women in their classes as they advanced in their engineering degrees.
“DTE is proud to support teams that offer young women exposure to careers in the STEM field,” said Tracy DiSanto, manager of Workforce Development at DTE. “FIRST prepares young people for their future career in many ways, and we’ll be looking for those skills as we train and hire a new generation of employees.”
“FIRST teaches us that girls can be in STEM, too,” said Zannatun Alim, senior at Detroit International Academy. “Our team is strong; we truly have a special bond of love and support that shines through all season. We’re here to show the other teams what the Pink Panthers are made of!”
FIRST teaches skills in business, marketing and leadership, but also offers young women hands-on experience in a variety of different aspects of robotics.
Earlier in the build season, we stopped by Mercy High School as the Riveters worked on their robot. Hear from the young women themselves as they talk about FIRST and a future in STEM careers.