Letter from Rida
I never thought I would become an engineer. I thought it was hard, it was boring, and it was for BOYS.
When I started engineering I didn’t know anything about coding or electronics. I was chosen to Turkey Youth Foundation Technology Team because I was good at math and science, but I was pretty bad about technology, probably the worse in the team.
They first started teaching us coding, electronics, and robotics with a one year course. The first day when I entered the classroom there were over 20 boys, a –man- coach, and only 3 girls including me. I sat next to one of the girls, she said that there were so many boys and she won’t come again. The other girl stopped coming after a while too. I was left as the only girl
in the class and the only girl in the entire team. Over 100 boys -and me. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t have almost any knowledge, but I loved what we were doing. If you love something you can do it no matter what. I had big challenges: I always sat in the corner away from all others, while others worked in groups I always worked alone, I couldn’t finish on time and worked after the classes, when there was an education camp I couldn’t come because I was a girl. Did these make me give up… Never.
The inequality to girls in STEM pushed me to work harder and harder. At the end of the course the only girl on the team was chosen as the most successful team member, and she became the leader of the team.
As the team, we worked hard, joined many competitions and won many awards. In many cases I was the only girl in the whole competition, everyone looked amazed when they saw me with the robots, most of them thought the boys made the robots and I just put it on the field. In many other cases, I was underestimated, people didn’t trust me even I knew many things. I couldn’t let them bring me down. I had to learn more, work more and show them the power of women.
I studied many programming languages such as C, Java, Python; electronics such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi; robotics in a wide range from line followers to humanoid robots; 3D designing and printing; entrepreneurship, leadership… I learned from any source I could reach: courses from LivingLabs to classes from Universities.
In 2017, the efforts started to blossom. I got accepted for an internship at NC State Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. Later on, over 18,000 candidates I was chosen to Turkey Technology Team. Now I am proud of representing my nation in technology.
So this is how I became who I am, an engineer.
And this is not the end of the story, it is just a beginning. There are so many girls out there who think engineering is hard, boring, and for boys. As Pink STREAM we are trying to show those girls the beauty of engineering, so they can discover the world of STEM and discover themselves –just as I did.
Merve Rida Bayraktar
Founder of Pink STREAM