Meet our final surprise speaker for TEDxSalem V “Through the Looking Glass.”
Anna Nixon’s STEM career began in the second grade, when she and her father starting building robots together in their garage. She was hooked immediately.
“I loved that feeling of accomplishment that came with finally getting a robot working after hours of hard work,” she said.
Now, a senior at Westview High School in Portland, she intends to take her passions to a bigger stage. Once she earns her degree in computer science, computer engineering, or biomedical engineering, she aspires to work with robots that will be used to provide medical aid.
Anna has learned a lot since the second grade, being involved in FIRST Robotics, taking advanced STEM classes in school, and starting a nonprofit, STEM 4 Girls. She’s not only more knowledgeable and skilled, she’s become aware of the field’s challenges recruiting and retaining girls and women.
Ever since Anna first joined robotics, she was often the only girl in the room.
“I think that the biggest challenge that comes with being the only girl in the room is feeling the pressure that your actions will reflect on every girl,” she said. “And I think this is true for any minority in any field. It’s easy to get into the mindset of ‘If I make a mistake people are going to think it’s because all girls are bad at this’ instead of merely accepting your mistake and moving on. While it may seem unfounded, that fear of failure makes you less confident taking risks or asking others for help which can have a negative impact.”
Anna’s nonprofit, STEM4Girls, aims to solve these issues and help girls stay in STEM by building up their confidence and fostering a supporting and encouraging community.
“Various studies have shown that girls actually tend to do better in STEM subjects than their male counterparts, at least until around middle school,” Anna said. “As they grow older, girls often tend to lose interest in STEM because they don’t see other girls doing it or they get the message that ‘STEM is a guy thing’. Thus, the greatest support that girls can get is making them feel included in the STEM community. This means providing them with female role models and peers that they can depend on as well eliminating prejudiced views against women in STEM.”
Join us January 6 to hear more about Anna’s story and her call to action.
Get your tickets for TEDxSalem V
TEDxSalem V is an all-day event featuring talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Salem Convention Center. Purchase tickets here. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.