Who said that women don’t build robots?

Here’s 30 good reasons to stop the sexism in STEM.

OAKLAND, October 8th, 2019—Women In Robotics, the non-profit professional network, released the annual "30 women in robotics you need to know about" list today, in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day. Started by Andra Keay in 2013, the list has already featured more than 150 women and girls from all over the world, ranging from Mars Rover drivers to robot psychologists, like Asimov's fictional Dr Susan Calvin.


This year's stories range from Mexican immigrant turned MIT graduate, to Indian entrepreneur building AI labs in remote village schools; from the woman who ran the US robotics forces in the last two wars, to the President of the fastest growing mobility company in China. Women are clearly capable of tackling any role in robotics and AI, although the percentage of women in both industry and academia is still disappointingly low.

Less than 20% of researchers at prestigious AI conferences are women according to a study published by the AI Now Institute, while the NESTA foundation found the figure to be closer to 13.8% in a large scale study of research papers. Not only has that figure not improved since 1990, but it is worse in industry, with large companies like Google and Microsoft having only 11-12% female researchers.
"The competition for those top paying jobs is fierce, so any woman who succeeds in the tech industry is going to be superstar calibre," says Andra Keay, President of Women in Robotics. "But there are still two big problems. Firstly, women have to prove that they're fantastic, they are rarely assessed on potential alone. And secondly, women are consistently underpaid and under promoted, systemically. No wonder there aren't that many of us!"

On the 2019 women in robotics list is Danielle Applestone, engineer and entrepreneur who founded Other Machine Co, producing a desktop CNC machine via a DARPA funded project. Now called Bantam Tools, the company was acquired by Bre Pettis in 2017 and Applestone has decided to advance from one machine to fixing the whole machining industry. She founded Daughters of Rosie to shore up domestic manufacturing and also provide reliable well paying jobs for women, by giving them career pathways into manufacturing jobs. According to The Manufacturing Institute, 2.4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States will go unfilled over the next ten years, and already more than 500,000 remain vacant.

Improving the diversity in robotics is a win/win situation because without women being more valued, robotics and AI faces a critical skills shortage.

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Women In Robotics is a professional network for women working in robotics or women who aspire to work in robotics, with more than 800 members in 16 chapters around the world. Women in Robotics provides role models for every career stage with the annual "30 women in robotics you need to know about" list, provides local networking events and a global online community. For more information visit https://womeninrobotics.org

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