A Talk with TCNJ's Dr. Pulimood
Last Monday, a few members of our team had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Dr. Pulimood, a professor and chair from TCNJ’s Computer Science department. It had been one of our goals to understand the work and difficulties of being a woman in STEM and how we, as an all-girls team, can introduce more girls to STEM.
Days after our discussion, Dr. Pulimood’s inspiring words echo through our minds still.
Gathered around a table in a quiet office building placed at the very edge of Princeton, we examined some of the biggest issues that ladies in STEM are fighting for today. “There seems to be this idea that [girls] have to be perfect”, Dr. Pulimood had said. It was suggested that because of this idea, girls started to feel more ill-equipped to work on STEM projects in comparison to their male counterparts at an alarmingly early age—most often during the middle and high school years. She reminded us that this was despite how girls typically do just as well as boys on standardized tests, if not better. It was also mentioned that high school counselors tend to pull girls away from areas like mathematics when looking at paths after high school—"it’s a cultural thing…despite all the cultural advances, that hasn’t changed".
When we asked Dr. Pulimood about what we could do as an all-girls team to change the outlook of girls in STEM fields, we received an unexpected response: “Get girls to work with boys!”. While working in a group of girls is a wonderful way to get more comfortable in an atmosphere, it is important that we work with our male colleagues, as the workplace will likely never be completely female. In many STEM careers women are the minority; “Girls need to persevere”.
-Aparna, co-captain of Prototype G - 11306
Now on our second year, we are proud to say that Prototype G, a reputable all-girls FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team from Princeton, NJ, is once again made up of 10 girls all of whom are united by our love for robotics.
FIRST is a global robotics program that is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and connecting students by engaging them in an interactive robotics program which incorporates computer science, engineering, and technology skills that inspire innovation. This program nurtures the skills needed in everyday life such as public speaking; it stresses the importance of teamwork, building connections, hands-on problem solving and much more.
Our team was created and is funded by SES who hosts our weekday meeting venue and YWCA Princeton (who strives to eliminate racism and empower women in all fields of study).