This week we interviewed Robogals and found out some more about this amazing club part of Engsoc! Definitely watch the highlights video below and the full interview can also be found below!
Story behind Robogals at queens
Robogals started in Australia by a university student and then it took off in Australia and spread all over the world into different universities, where people had the same concerns that there wasn’t enough female participation in STEM. It started out in Queen’s in 2013. Occasionally we have meetings with people from the whole world to talk about how they have done workshops, what they do, and how we can learn from each other from each other. I started getting involved in 2017 while I was in second year, so I’ve been with it for three years and I’m the president this year!
How did you get into it
I am in engineering and in my first year we had 30% female in our class. Looking back at when my dad did engineering, there was only one female. So, it has increased quite a bit since then but it’s still not equal and I think it is just because a lot of girls don’t’ learn about it at a young age. I know I personally didn’t. When I heard about Robogals and how they were teaching young girls about engineering, what it is and what you can do with it , I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I was thinking that that would’ve been amazing to have when I was younger. Nothing was really like that at my school or offered to me so I thought it was an awesome opportunity to try and offer it to kids now who maybe were like me and interested in engineering but just not aware of it.
What is one thing you want people to know about Robogals?
We have taught some really young kids, from starting at ages 6 and 7, and they actually can pick it on basic programming super quickly! I think it’s something that should be taught to more younger kids because it’s seen as a complicated thing but we teach so many young kids and they pick it up so quickly and usually by the end of workshops they are so much better at the things we are teaching than I am. Yeah I mean that’s just in general I think don’t be afraid to teach young kids things that are too complicated because they can pick up on thins pretty quickly.
In what ways do clubs like yours help queen’s engineers
It’s definitely more aimed at helping the community than our specific engineers because we have workshops all throughout the community. We have been to a lot of elementary schools and we host full day events on campus where kids can come and spend their whole day at Queen’s. But as well, the volunteers also gained a lot of experience. We benefit and learn from teaching kids as well. So it’s a good experience for both the kids and the volunteers. As well, while hiring for our executive team this year, one of the interviewees mentioned to me is that she experienced something similar to Robogals while she was younger and that’s why she wanted to go into engineering. To me, knowing that these programs actually do make a difference in kid’s lives and seeing real life examples of how Robogals can influence girls to go into engineer is really special. It has starter to create a cycle of the kids we teach becoming university students and passing on their experience to other young kids.
What does Robogals mean to you?
For me it’s been a really rewarding extracurricular that I have been involved with. There are a lot of things that you can get involved with in Queen’s, and I find this one in particular is quite meaningful to me because I am a female in engineering. I see the gender divide and have experienced it first hand. I have never felt that I have not been treated fairly for being a female in engineering, but when I think about it, most of my friend group is all males and so it is noticeable to me. I think the ultimate goal is to get it to be 50/50 and make sure girls realize that they can be engineers. For me, I was lucky to have my dad to tell me all about engineering, but not everyone has that. I think it is important for me to teach other girls that they can be engineers!
What would be the goal of your initiatives at the end of the year?
This year is super different with Covid, so we are working hard to adjust to that. We are transforming everything we are doing to a virtual online setting. We have a YouTube channel that just starting up with some online workshops that kids can watch on their own and then we are also trying to organize virtual workshops. It’s kind of an experimental year because this is something we have never done before. Our goal is to have as many kids as we’d normally have participate in our live workshops. It’s going to be a tough challenge but we are going to try our best!
Check out their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJxibkVd9UKQBAPmFCey-WA/featured?view_as=subscriber
What is one misconception about your initiative?
We are an inclusive club, so we do not turn anyone away if they want to get involved and learn about robotics. Our workshops include anyone who wants to participate! It’s very common to have girls who have brothers who also want to participate, and we welcome everyone. It is called Robogals and the goal is increase female participation in STEM, but as well just introducing engineering to all kids. So, I guess that could be a misconception.
What change would you like to see How can other students help?
It’s weird this year just because we are still trying to figure our lives out. But In the past, we did lack some volunteer participation. We have our own executive team but it’s always good for our workshops to have more volunteers. The nice thing about volunteering with us is that there is very little commitment. We will tell you when we have workshops booked and you can sign up for however many workshops you want. More help from other students would be awesome!
What would you like to see the engineering faculty of queens do to help?
I think just getting all the information out to other schools and community would be a great help! I’m sure the faculty has relationships with lots high schools and elementary school, so I think that could be helpful for us. Our goal is to help as many kids as possible and it’s a limitation based on the number of contacts we have with schools right now so having extra contact with schools would increase our participation.