- The creator of Cultura Tech works to reduce social and gender inequalities through the developing of robotic workshops for girls and boys.
When Belén Guede was in high school, she adds her interest in robotics with her passion for English and internet. Thanks to her attraction for those disciplines, today she is the world champion of the contest “Challenge for Change” of YouthSpark program of Microsoft, obtained in 2015 for to the creation of Cultura Tech, an organisation that seeks to create and support technology and robotic programs for Chilean schools.
One of the first experiences with this world was her assistant to Chile Va camp, organised by the Explora program of CONICYT. “We were 100 young women and men. They took us to Cajón del Maipo and they did entrepreneurship and programming workshops for us. I realized that all people liked this, but so as me, they didn’t have the opportunity to learn it at school”, Belén remembers, who is a student of Engineering in Information and Management Control in Universidad de Chile.
Being high school student, she started making robotic workshops in community centres and public libraries, encouraged to bring near more girls and boys to technology. She gathered similar partners and she planned the workshops of Cultura Tech. “We started in Puente Alto, then we went to schools in La Florida and now we are in Valentín Letelier School with a permanent robotic workshop”, Belén says.
Regarding the possibilities for women to develop in robotics, Belén Guede says the incorporation of new educative approaches it is essential. “I did not have a team of robotics at my school or an enthusiastic teacher who set a workshop. We always typecast women in humanities or literature, but girls can receive other approaches, like attend workshops oriented to technologies or let go for this passions and incorporate that mentality”, she explains.
For her, this is much more than a subject of study, but an engine that transforms society. “Many times we are told that the robot is an excuse to learn other skills. We believe that technology is a social catalyst, which allows us to move forward reducing social and gender inequality. This lets us enhance skills like work in teams and critical thinking, so necessary for any career”, Belén emphasizes.
Related to barriers for girls to develop in robotics, Belén remembers her experiences trying to submit almost 100%, masculine teams. “When I was at school I went to seminars of professionals and university students because I wanted to learn more, and I saw that they were all men, including the professors who dictated the workshop. When you see this situation in that context you realize no girl wants to join that group”, she says.
For Belén, it is difficult for women to enter into a world of men if they cannot see who they can become. “There arises the responsibility to encourage new generations, so they see that we are here, that they also can and we must remain on this”, she emphasizes.
“I definitely believe that multidisciplinary teams are profitable for this area. Every time we have more women in our team of robotics and we have better results. In a diverse team, every difference adds new visions, which is exactly what technology needs to contribute solving problems”, she ends.