Robohub.org
 

Robots. Startups. Women. Opportunity.

by
17 April 2012



share this:

This guest post at Women 2.0 helped us have 1:3 ratio of women:men in robotics track at MEGA startup weekend.

Women hackers wanted for robots at the Mountain View MEGA Startup Weekend!

By Andra Keay (Organizer, MEGA Startup Weekend)

Robots, startups and women – These are a few of my favorite things, but they usually don’t go hand in hand. There are exceptions of course, but in general, the numbers don’t lie. Women are under represented in tech startups and under represented in robotics. Under representation is a missed opportunity.

I’m not just being a cheerleader. It’s tempting to claim that robotics is the future and that we need to get more women involved. But if simply getting more women in the pipes fixed the under representation of women in technology, we’d have seen greater changes over the last 40 or 50 years.

The current focus on STEM is laudable, but the attrition rate for women working in STEM areas gets higher the older you get. What makes so many women leave after they’ve invested in a degree and started their career? There are probably many small factors but it adds up to STEM careers not offering a value proposition to women. I’d say that this goes for startups as well, from an informal sampling.

Startups, like robotics, are predominantly male fields. Unless you still believe that gender is purely historical and only inertia is holding us back, there must be some value in all-male groups. Well, it’s definitely easier to communicate. That goes for any homogenous group. Similarity between members, from appearance to shared references and values, also increases the comfort level.

There’s an assumption that ‘aping’, the practice of psychological flattery by imitation, is also an effective way to get advancement or investment. So cliques are potentially good for both the workings of the team and for the future of the startup, project or robot. If you put it that way, what value could women have, either for robotics or for a startup? A comfortable homogenous team might communicate easily but they will also find it difficult to avoid assumptions. Assumptions are the enemy of startups.

Steve Blank recommends leaving the building to check if the rest of the world really does think the same way you do about your product.

Robotics also needs to leave the building. Robotics needs customer development methodology and people-centered design. Solving technological problems is no longer the only way forward for robotics. Rodney Brooks says that the issue for robotics isn’t what CAN we build, it’s what SHOULD we build.

Clearly, robotics needs startup methodology. Does robotics need women? What is the value proposition for having more women in robotics and in startups generally?

Underrepresentation of any sector of the population in a team or field is a missed opportunity to leave the building. Having a homogenous culture is not conducive to lean startup methodology, customer development or people-centered design. More women will build better startups which will build more robots.

Get involved now! What better time to test this idea than during National Robotics Week. Try something like the MEGA Startup Weekend with robots and see how much difference your robot business models can make. You can be a hacker. A robot hacker is a culture changer.

Women 2.0 members save 30% on tickets when you register with discount code “W20bot”.

About the guest blogger: Andra Keay is a human-robot culture researcher, MEGA Startup Weekend organizer and founder of Robot Launch Pad – a community to grow robotics, one startup at a time. Also a mother of 4, not counting the robots.She been running science and robot workshops for children since 1995, including coaching competition teams in Moonbots, First Lego League and RoboCup Jnr.



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 :



Robot Talk Episode 35 – Interview with Emily S. Cross

In this week's episode of the Robot Talk podcast, host Claire Asher chatted to Professor Emily S. Cross from the University of Glasgow and Western Sydney University all about neuroscience, social learning, and human-robot interaction.
03 February 2023, by

Sea creatures inspire marine robots which can operate in extra-terrestrial oceans

Scientists at the University of Bristol have drawn on the design and life of a mysterious zooplankton to develop underwater robots.
02 February 2023, by

Our future could be full of undying, self-repairing robots – here’s how

Could it be that future AI systems will need robotic “bodies” to interact with the world? If so, will nightmarish ideas like the self-repairing, shape-shifting T-1000 robot from the Terminator 2 movie come to fruition? And could a robot be created that could “live” forever?
01 February 2023, by

Sensing with purpose

Fadel Adib uses wireless technologies to sense the world in new ways, taking aim at sweeping problems such as food insecurity, climate change, and access to health care.
29 January 2023, by

Robot Talk Episode 34 – Interview with Sabine Hauert

In this week's episode of the Robot Talk podcast, host Claire Asher chatted to Dr Sabine Hauert from the University of Bristol all about swarm robotics, nanorobots, and environmental monitoring.
28 January 2023, by

Special drone collects environmental DNA from trees

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal research institute WSL have developed a flying device that can land on tree branches to take samples. This opens up a new dimension for scientists previously reserved for biodiversity researchers.
27 January 2023, by





©2021 - ROBOTS Association


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association