Growing Robogals

29 May 2013

share this:
Marita Cheng & Julia Gillard PM

In 2012, Marita Cheng was named Young Australian of the Year for her efforts to create a girl friendly robotics culture. Marita founded Robogals, an international student run organization that helps young engineers teach robotics to girls in schools, and in the process encourages more girls to also pursue engineering.

In Australia only 9.6% of engineers are women. This figure is similar across most of the world. As we globally face a shortage of engineers, every country is concerned with strategies to increase science and technology graduate numbers. A high priority is tapping an existing resource, young women who have the intelligence and skills to enter science and engineering, but aren’t interested.


In 2008, Cheng started Robogals as a student club at University of Melbourne, with the encouragement of Head of Electrical Engineering, A/Prof. Jamie Evans. They believed that one solution to the low number of women in engineering was to encourage fellow engineering students to teach robotics to girls at schools, leveraging existing robotics competitions.

Robogals expanded to the UK in 2009, when Cheng was on academic exchange at Imperial College London. At around the same time Robogals started a leadership program, identifying women at other universities who could start Robogals chapters and bringing them together for a 3 day bootcamp.

In March 2013, Caltech and Colombia University both hosted bootcamps, now called SINEs (seminars inducting new executive committees) as Robogals expands in to the US and Canada. In just over 4 years, Robogals has grown to 17+ chapters in 5 countries around the world, and taught over 8,000 girls robotics.

Along the way, Robogals has had many achievements to celebrate, from Marita Cheng being named Young Australian of the year, to Robogals being recognized as a ‘Change Agent’ by the Anita Borg Institute, to Robogals claiming the Guinness World Record for largest robot dance party with 351 coordinated dancers, both human and metallic.


One of the secrets of Robogals’ success is bringing young women engineers together to have fun, as well as to inspire and educate the next generation. On May 4 2013, Cheng gave a presentation at TedXSydney and hopes to raise the profile of Robogals chapters across the globe. Visit the Robogals site for more information on getting involved – and membership in Robogals is open to guys as well as girls.

And there’s already a new generation of Robogals. Marita Cheng has just passed the torch on to a new CEO, Nicole Brown, as she pursues her own robotics startup.

tags: , , ,

Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, founder of Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.
Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, founder of Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.

Related posts :

Designing societally beneficial Reinforcement Learning (RL) systems

In this post, we aim to illustrate the different modalities harms can take when augmented with the temporal axis of RL. To combat these novel societal risks, we also propose a new kind of documentation for dynamic Machine Learning systems which aims to assess and monitor these risks both before and after deployment.
15 May 2022, by

Innovative ‘smart socks’ could help millions living with dementia

‘Smart socks’ that track rising distress in the wearer could improve the wellbeing of millions of people with dementia, non-verbal autism and other conditions that affect communication.
13 May 2022, by

Swiss Robotics Day showcases innovations and collaborations between academia and industry

The 2021 Swiss Robotics Day marked the beginning of NCCR Robotics’s final year. The project, launched in 2010, is on track to meet all its scientific goals in the three areas of wearable, rescue and educational robotics, while continuing to focus on supporting spin-offs, advancing robotics education and improving equality of opportunities for all robotics researchers.
10 May 2022, by

Afreez Gan: Open Source Robot Dog, Kickstarter, and Home Robots | Sense Think Act Podcast #18

In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks to Afreez Gan, who is the founder and CEO of MangDang; MangDang is a Chinese startup that makes Minipupper, an open source robot dog that uses the Robot Operating S...

GelBot – A new 3D printing method to tackle sustainability in soft robots

Doctoral students have built a system to 3D print a biodegradable gel into complex shapes. They have printed finger-like robots that use intricate sensor networks to sense their own deformation and also objects in their surroundings.

RIMA, the European robotics network for Inspection and Maintenance

RIMA project aims at bringing together Digital Innovation Hubs and Facilitators operating under a common network that allow them to join forces and competences in promoting Inspection and Maintenance (I&M) robotics in Europe.
04 May 2022, by

©2021 - ROBOTS Association


©2021 - ROBOTS Association