Women's History Month: Women in Robotics
"We have a lot of suspicion of robots in the West. But if you look cross-culturally, that isn't true. In Japan, in their science fiction, robots are seen as good. They have Astro Boy, this character they've fallen in love with and he's fundamentally good, always there to help people."
- Cynthia Breazeal, Assoc. Professor of Media Arts & Sciences @ MIT
Today’s blog post is written by Karen Hinh, our high school intern from Athenian School in Danville, CA. She’s a highly proactive student of STEM and an active member of a First Robotics team at her school. She’s awesome.
Women’s History Month celebrates women of all racial, ethnic, and educational backgrounds on their contributions to society, a tradition that dates back to 1981. Though celebrating women’s successes and achievements is important, it is not enough to offset the gender inequality that can be found throughout the entire world, whether it be in a household, workplace, or government.
For instance, did you know that women typically spend three times or longer on household chores than their male counterparts? Or that, though over half of college students are women, only 29% of the STEM workforce is women?
Representation is important, and we all need to support young girls and women in pushing back these statistics and creating an equal world for all. Here’s just a few women we find inspiring.
CEO of a Top 50 influential robotics company
A friend of Robolink (!), Rosanna Myers was educated at Duke, majoring in Political Science, and has won events and titles including the Duke Start-Up Challenge, the Best Startup of CES award, and the Top 50 Robotics Companies in the Global Robotics Industry review.
She is best known as the CEO and co-founder of Carbon Robotics, a startup that creates advanced robotics that are more affordable and accessible, though she began her journey as an entrepreneur and engineer by creating The Green Cooling Group, where she invented environmentally-friendly technology to cool water and other fluids over a hundred times more efficiently.
Award winning Founder & CEO of a top humanitarian drone company
Dr. Catherine Ball was educated at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, holding a BSc Honours in Environmental Protection and a PhD in Spatial Ecology, Descriptive and Predictive Statistics. She has been named as the Telstra Queensland Business Woman of Year; one of the 100 Women of Influence; Innovator of Influence of 2015; and many more titles.
Dr. Ball is best known for her work on the drone industry, having propelled it forward with projects revolving around unmanned drones exploring remote areas. She is an innovation and environmental science consultant, though above all, she is a strong advocate for diversity and underrepresented communities in the business and STEM fields.
Founder and CEO of littleBits, a leading edTech toy for learning about circuits
Ayah Bdeir was educated at the American University of Beirut, having majored in Computer Engineering and Sociology, and has also obtained a degree in Media Arts and Sciences from the Computing Culture Group at the MIT Media Lab.
She is best known for founding littleBits, a company that brings simple electronic building blocks to the world in order to make education and innovation more accessible. She was named a Tribeca Disurptive Innovation Honoree, Inc. Magazine’s 35 under 35, and also appears on CNBC’s Next List.
President of drive.ai, a Silicon Valley startup building self-driving AI
Carol Reiley was educated at Santa Clara University, having earned a Computer Engineering degree, and is now a Computer Science Ph.D. candidate at the Johns Hopkins University, specializing in robotics and computer vision. She is the President and co-founder of drive.ai, a startup that focuses on – as the name implies – self-driving cars with artificial intelligence!
She is an advocate for diversity and those underrepresented in the tech industry, and has done so in many ways: two TEDx talks, papers published for biomedical engineering, three technical patents, and various features from magazines and news organizations.
Product Design Engineer at Mattel and BattleBots veteran
Lisa Winter is an avid roboteer, most well known for her performance in BBC’s show BattleBots. She’s a self-taught machinist and fought her first robot battle at age 10 against 30 year old opponents after being inspired by her father, Mike Winter, who won the first Robot Wars in 1994.
Winter now works as an Engineering Project Manager at Mattel for her day job, though she plans to pursue her interest in making prosthetics for animals.
In these celebratory spirits, we hope you are inspired to take action as well and to follow your passions, whether it be in the STEM field or not! Empowering others means empowering yourself, and we at Robolink aim to support you in your journey.
Keep being curious about the world and become lifelong learners, and of course, celebrate all the women in your life!