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The robotics industry is constantly changing and evolving. New robotics technologies and developments in automation are quickly creating exciting career opportunities at every education level – from micro-credentials to PhDs. Here is where you can learn more about robotics careers in manufacturing and how these new technologies are benefiting workers


A Brief History of Women in Robotics

August 10, 2022

When it comes to STEM fields like engineering and robotics, women have been historically underrepresented. Even now, when women quantifiably make up over half of the population, they're only present in about 16% of engineering and robotics roles according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.

This lack of diversity not only keeps women out of fascinating and potentially lucrative careers, but it also deprives the robotics industry as a whole of much-needed different perspectives.

In a time when the manufacturing industry is experiencing a major shortage of robotics workers, we need to understand what is causing the lack of diversity and work quickly to fix it. Robotics is a relatively new field, and drawing interest from a more diverse group of intelligent people will only help it advance more efficiently and more comprehensively.

Want to join the ranks of women in robotics? Start here to find robotics training near you. 

Historic Women in Robotics

While women continue to be underrepresented in advanced robotics, they are still major contributors to the creation and advancement of robotics to where it is today.

Let's take a look at some of the most profoundly impactful women in the history of robotics.

The World's First Programmer, Ada Lovelace

It would be impossible to talk about women in robotics without talking about Ada Lovelace. In fact, it might be impossible to be talking about robotics at all without her genius to set the stage.

Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician who, in 1843, wrote the world's first computer program while working on an early mechanical computer designed by Charles Babbage.

Lovelace's notes on Babbage's machine include what is widely recognized as the very first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. In other words, Ada Lovelace wrote the first line of code.

Her work was critical in helping to shape our modern understanding of computing and algorithms, which are at the heart of all robotics. Without Ada Lovelace, robotics as we know it today would not exist.

The Mother of Artificial Intelligence, Margaret A. Boden

Margaret A. Boden is a cognitive scientist and philosopher who has been making significant contributions to the field of artificial intelligence throughout the 1960s to present day.

Boden's work revolves around the idea of computational minds, or minds that operate based on computation rather than wetware (i.e. brains). This was a radical idea at the time, and one that has shaped the field of AI ever since.

Boden is also responsible for coining the term "artificial intelligence effect," which is the tendency to underestimate the abilities of AI systems because we assume they are only capable of what we have explicitly programmed them to do.

This underestimation can lead to complacency and a lack of investment in AI development, which in turn can lead to dangerous consequences like AI systems that are not equipped to deal with ethical dilemmas.

A True Robotics Pioneer, Ruzena Bajcsy

Ruzena Bajcsy is a Slovakian-American electrical engineer and computer scientist who is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of robotics.

Bajcsy's work has focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensorimotor control, and haptic interfaces. She is perhaps best known for her work on the StanfordCart, one of the first mobile robots.

Still fascinated with the study of communication between machines and people, Professor Bajscy continues to teach at the University of California, Berkeley in her 80s.

A Programming Master, Grace Brewster Murray Hopper

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a programming language.

She popularized the term "debugging" after finding a moth in one of the earliest computers. The moth prevented a circuit from functioning, and Hopper removed it and noted the incident was "debugged."

Hopper's work was critical in developing early programming languages like COBOL, and her impact on the fields of computer science and robotics is impossible to overstate.

A tireless advocate for women in tech, Hopper also established the Association for Computing Machinery's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) in order to help increase the participation of women in computer science.

Adapting Robots to a Human-Centered World, Ayanna Howard

Ayanna Howard is a roboticist and Dean of the College of Engineering at Ohio State University. She's also the most senior African American woman in robotics in the entire country.

Howard's work focuses on human-centered robotics, which is the design of robots that can safely and effectively interact with people and adapt to changing environments.

This is an important area of research because as robots become more ubiquitous, it is crucial that they are able to seamlessly integrate into our everyday lives.

Howard is also the founder and director of the Robot Intelligence Lab, which develops technologies to create socially intelligent robots. These robots are designed to interact with people in a natural way, using nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language.

Are You the Next Woman in Robotics?

While the five women we've mentioned above, along with many others that could also easily be on the list, continue to inspire us to innovate and grow as a field, it's the future we're concerned about at the ARM Institute.

We believe that the future of robotics needs to be as diverse and gender inclusive as possible if we're going to truly realize the potential of robots in manufacturing. That means that we need women like you to enter the field, and we're here to support you.

If you're interested in working in robotics, but you're not sure how to get started, you're already in the right place. Simply go to the homepage and use our search tool to find a robotics program that's conveniently located for you. From there, it's full speed ahead.


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