by Andrea Farias, FIRST Team 4343 and Girls in STEM Student Advisory Council Member
When you think of people who inspire and promote women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), who comes to mind? Most often it’s women role models and champions of girls in STEM. I would like us to recognize the importance of men in this support network. I believe that the influence of a father on their daughters can create an impact which sprouts and promotes the growth of young minds.
Just like any other aspect of life, family has a profound influence on what you do and how you do it. Take sports as an example. If your family has a history filled with Olympic champion swimmers, you are most likely to take a swimming class or two. If you narrow it down even further you see that parents have their own individual influences on a child as well. The terms “daddy’s little girl” and “mama’s boy” are often casually thrown around to signify a person’s relationship with their parent. These phrases can perpetuate negative stereotyping, however I know that there can be good truth behind these words.
A mother can teach her son to be considerate and patient, which are both important virtues. A father can empower his daughter to achieve more in life and be a leader—traits that positively impact her future.
In the field of STEM, where the majority of participants are known to be male, confidence and determination are key drivers for a woman to enter and stay in this industry. The love from a father—or even a father-figure—has the power to nurture a girl in this field.
My father is one example of a nurturer. Ever since his involvement with my robotics team, he has been a constant motivator for not only myself but the team as a whole. His actions based on love and caring are found in the little things. For example, every time he enters a room he gives every member a fistbump and asks them how their day is going. Although it is just a fistbump and an attentive remark, this means a lot to many members and it has the potential to positively shift the mood in the room.
He has been a constant pillar of support for me. When I first became director of the team, I had the passion to run the team but no knowledge of how to deal with people. Overcoming my first barriers to communication were the tallest mountains I have ever had to climb. I had no idea where to start so I started to cave in and almost quit the adventure before it even began. That is when my dad stepped in and acted like my guide, not telling me how to do things, but showing and teaching me what to do. I took all of his advice to heart and it formed me into the leader I never thought I had the potential to be.
My dad has always been my number one support and guide. He’s been the best dad I could ever ask for, not only in robotics but in life. There are no words that can describe my love and admiration for my dad.
Even though he promised he wouldn’t, I saw a tear in his eye as I had been announced as winner of the Dean’s List award at the North Bay event.
To conclude I’d like to say thank you to all the fathers in FIRST. You are inspiring the minds of your children everyday. You are sparking something in them that inspires and creates the best version of them. The love from a father is something that is incomparable, inspiring and can generate the best feelings in the world.
Thank you to fathers everywhere who are supporting their daughters.
For more information on what fathers can do to support, visit here.