Andrea's daughter Maya, wearing pink and braids

Girls and Robots

Andrea Phillips is an award-winning transmedia writer, game designer and author. This is a guest post, cross-posted from Deus Ex Machinatio.

My daughter Maya is five and a half years old. She’s in kindergarten, and is as clever and adventurous a child as you’ve ever seen. She loves dancing and princesses and rainbows and anything that is pink.

Andrea's daughter Maya, wearing pink and braids

Maya has also always, always loved cars and robots, right along with those butterflies and flowers and hearts. But recently she’s been saying that she doesn’t like these things anymore.

“I don’t like cars,” she told me, “because I want people to like me.”

This breaks my heart. And I imagine it breaks your heart, too. Five years old, and she’s already figured out just exactly how this thing works.

It turns out that “it got out” in school that she liked cars, so she says. And then the other girls in her class made fun of her for liking boy things.

All her life I’ve been talking about being true to yourself, about liking the things you find in your heart whether it’s a girl thing or a boy thing, and still, still, this is how fast it can unravel. Five years old, and she’s already trying to change who she is because she doesn’t think it’s who she should be.

Internet, talk to Maya, and talk to me. Tell us about girls who make robots and cars and bridges. Girls who build rockets, girls who can make and build and invent — girls who have grand adventures, but who can still go dancing, and still braid their hair, and still wear pink. Tell us about you. I know you’re out there.

169 thoughts on “Girls and Robots

  1. Judy

    Hi, Maya!
    I’m studying mechanical engineering, which means that someday, I want to build awesome stuff like these wind turbines-

    -or maybe even cars! I hear you like those too. I also love to go swing dancing, and wear dresses that spin when I twirl.
    You’re allowed to like being pretty and girly, but also building things and making a mess. Please, don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise- they just don’t realize how fun it is.
    -Judy

  2. powerplant

    Hi Maya!

    I am a 19-year-old college sophomore, and I am obsessed with eyeshadow. My favorite is gold glitter, but I also love silver, purple, blue, and dark dark pink. I wake up early most mornings just to make sure my eyes look perfect.

    I am a chemical engineering student, and one day, I will make the infrastructure of this country better than it is today. If anyone ever tells you that you can’t love to look good and do what you love, they’re wrong.

  3. Mercedes

    Hi Maya ,

    My name is Mercedes. I’m almost 20. I’m studying engineering at a university. I want to use chemistry and math to make new technologies like fancy computers and cars. Doesn’t that sound cool? I really think so!

    But I love wearing dresses, and I love kittens, and I love watching Disney movies and like dressing up to feel like a princess. I like having ribbons in my hair and dancing and singing along to silly songs on the radio.

    And guess what? None of the girls make fun of me for liking boy things like math or car or computers, and the boys don’t make fun of me for liking girl things. I’m sorry that girls in your class said mean things to you for liking cars, but cars are just as awesome as dolls! Don’t be afraid of liking cars, and tell the other girls how cool they are! I know LOTS of girls who like cars and robots, and help build them too!

    Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you can’t like cars or robots, ok? And if they say something again, you tell them that your friend Mercedes is a girl and has a name like a car :)

  4. Angelina Fabbro

    I went through this as a kid, too. I was made fun of mercilessly because I loved computers, not dolls.

    I’ve built robots, many of them, and now every day I get on my computer and I build software that people use every day and it’s ever so fulfilling. Encourage her to keep loving cars!

    Robots and cars and mechanics and electronics are cool things for anyone to be interested in and gender should not be a part of that equation.

    It’s hard to do, but I bet if your daughter stood up to them and said “That’s silly, anyone can like cars, you don’t have to be a boy. Want to come play with them and see?” Teach your daughter to challenge her peers, always, and questions why people are afraid to live outside the arbitrary and un-relevant boxes of gender when it comes to personal interests. I wish someone had told me to do that.

  5. Kyle

    Hi Maya!
    My name is Kyle, which is a name you usually hear boys called. But I’m a girl named Kyle. I like girl and boy things. I like to sing and dance and wear bows in my hair and I love to wear dresses! I also play ice hockey and soccer. Those sound like boy sports but I play on a team of all girls.
    I am also a rocket scientist. I build and fly rockets and spaceships and planes for a living. It’s really cool and what I love it and even though not many girls do what I do, that’s okay, because I am doing what I love!
    Do what you like, Maya, not what other people like. :)

  6. Mama Von

    Maya:

    Be brave, be strong and be yourself. I bet if you did you’d find all sorts of girls at your school who like to play with cars and robots and are afraid to say so. When I was a little girl, many, many years ago, I loved playing with cars and I loved reading about robots. I still do. I’m a big, grown up woman with children myself now, but you know what? I have a really good job and my job is all about cars. I love it. I hope some day you find a job that you love as much as I love mine, whether it’s playing with cars like I do or designing dresses or building houses. Do what makes you happy and you’ll do well in life.

    Keep strong and grow well. And tell your Mama that I think she’s doing a great job and to keep it up.

    Mama Von

  7. Tara Meisinger

    Hey Maya!

    My name is Tara, and I want to tell you that you can have it all! I am a college student right now, studying mechanical engineering. I study how cars, dish washers, air conditioners, and almost anything else you can think of works and also how to put them together. There are mostly boys in my classes, but I want to let you know that it doesn’t matter. I get to go to school and learn something cool every day. My favorite color is still pink, I love to shop and get my nails done, and I joined a sorority where I do all kinds of cool “girly” things with my friends. You can definitely have it all, Maya, and soon the girls who make fun of you will wish they could be as smart and cool as you. (Some of them even might end up working for you when you grow up). So keep on loving flowers and robots and pink and cars all at the same time. I did it and I couldn’t be happier.

  8. Laura

    I teach science. I love science. I love nature. I love understanding everything in our world. I meet many young ladies who have much in common many very nice people (men and ladies) because they like cars, and figuring out puzzles. Maya, you need to know that your love of all things from pink ribbons, pretty braids to cars (and maybe robots and mud) will make you a very interesting, loved, and special lady when you grow up. I know, because I always had lots in common with everyone, boys and girls. I am 52 years old now, and I never stop learning about anything that is interesting to me:D and I have many friends.

  9. John Hadley

    Dear Maya and Co.

    I have just finished my first year of college. I was lucky to make many new friends there. One of my best friends is a girl named Sydney Cloinger. She is a civil engineering major. This means that she gets to figure out how to make cities work, things like how a stoplight should work, or where they should put one, what the speed limit is on a new road or where they should put the columns on a bridge. She is without a doubt the smartest girl I have ever met. She had all of her college math done before she got out of high school, so she’s a very hard worker too.
    AND SHE LOVES CARS.
    She loves cars more than anyone i have ever met. Sydney grew up near a NASCAR raceway in Charlotte, and to her and her friends from home, cars are the coolest thing ever. The more you know about cars back in her hometown, the cooler the her friends think you are. No one in her high school was made fun of for liking cars or robots, and no one in my high school either.
    You will find that more guys like cars than girls, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that girls should like cars less an boys. And you will find as you get older that boys like talking about cars more than girls, but we like talking about cars with girls more than we like talking about cars with boys.
    We are seeing more and more robots enter our lives. They’re doing more and more work with robots. And with the technology that we put in our cars now, its like we have robots in our cars. There are so many scholarships for girls who like what you do, because even the government knows that girls should like cars and robots just as much as boys.
    I’ve learned that in life you will be happier and better at things that you like doing, like working on cars or robots. You could even make the robot arms that help to put the cars together. That’s the job my best friend’s mom does.
    So dream about what you what to dream about. and do what you love even if people make fun of you for it. live is so much more fun that way.
    Good luck,
    John.

  10. Jenn

    I like math. And computers. I have since I was little. I wasn’t into playing with dolls or dress-up. But I do like reading about queens, princesses and watching the princess movies! I also love to wear skirts and dresses – because I feel pretty in them!

    Right now I fix computers in hospitals and doctors’ offices. And I tutor people in math. I will be teaching math next year. I love numbers! I see them in everything!

    When I was growing up, my mom and dad didn’t care that I didn’t like girly stuff too much – they just wanted me to be happy! Math and computers make me happy, so they are happy too!

    I love looking at cars on the roads. And I like watching football, hockey, and sometimes basketball!

    I’m glad you like cars! Because otherwise, we would have to boys talk about cars all the time too!

  11. MNR

    I wanted to say something simply because I have grown up living between my love of pink and all things girly, while also loving planes and robots. While loving planes or pink can be hard at times, I have been given amazing opportunities on both sides of my life. I am currently an aerospace engineering major and I am a member of an all female rocketry team through my university. Like Maya, I also love robots, and worked on a robotics team in high school. But, I also have a frilly side to life. I own a lot of pink, and I am even a crowned beauty queen.
    My main message to Maya would be that although it can be hard, it’s okay to be different. Loving pink and loving robots makes life interesting, and it let’s you see cool stuff that the other girls don’t get to see. I hope she will continue to be true to herself, and always love robots.

  12. Sheila

    Hi Maya!
    I’m sorry to hear you’re having a tough time with some of your classmates. One of my favorite things – video games – is something that a lot of people tell me girls shouldn’t like. Eventually I realized that it isn’t anyone else’s business – the important thing is that I’m having fun, and that makes it a lot easier to ignore the people who don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just missing out on the cool stuff! Now I make my own games, and it’s awesome and fun!
    I also like robots and think they’re awesome, but my friend Heather loves robots – and builds them! Heather started when she was just 13 in her high school FIRST Robotics team. FIRST is like a sports competition, but with robots instead of human athletes, and the students design and build the robots themselves! She came up with most of the design for the robot that won their local competition and did really well at the regional level. She was also in charge of teaching the other kids on the team how to build robots, because most of the other kids – especially the boys – weren’t being safe enough.
    I hope things get easier for you at school, and that you keep finding things that you love and are excited about. Good luck, and no matter what, remember to have fun!
    Sheila

  13. Christie

    My mom made my senior prom dress (black taffeta and sparkly tulle). And the next week she took the carburetor out of her car and rebuilt it. All girls need to have all kinds of skills (boys, too).

  14. Spider Lady

    Hi Maya,

    It makes me really sad that the girls at your school are telling you that you can’t like certain things because they’re “boy things,” but it also reminds me of what used to happen to me a lot when I was younger. When I was your age, I spent a lot of my time outside collecting bugs, I had a my hair cut short like a boy’s, and I loved playing video games with the boys at my school. But, I also played dress-up and barbie all the time, carried baby dolls and purses around, and snuck lipstick from my mom’s bathroom drawer. A lot of the girls at my school used to make fun of me because my favorite color was blue and I liked going outside and playing in the dirt. It made me sad to be called weird all the time, but I realized that if the other girls didn’t like me for who I was, then they weren’t worth playing with. Instead, I played with the boys most of the time, and I ignored what the girls said about me being a tomboy. And you know what? It was probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life! I’m really happy with the person I am today and it’s all because I didn’t let what other people say about me change who I was or what things I liked. I’ve always loved animals (especially cute baby animals), so now I’m in school studying science so that one day I can do research with them. I started making my own jewelry a few years ago, which is really cool, because it not only lets me be girly and creative, but I have to use cool tools like saws, blow torches, and hammers in order to do it! I still love bugs, so I work in a lab at my school with spiders. A lot of my friends here think spiders are gross, but nobody makes fun of me for working with bugs anymore. In fact, I’m always the person they go to if they need someone to catch a spider from their room! I love getting dressed up and putting makeup on to look pretty when I go out to dinner with my friends and I sleep with my stuffed animals every night when I go to bed. So, my point is, I know it’s tough to have the girls at school make fun of you now, but as you get older, it’ll get a whole lot better. People will think it’s really cool when you can tell them all about how you build cars or robots. They’ll really appreciate your love for cars when you’re the one fixing their car so that they can get to work everyday, or your love for robots when you build one that can do all their household chores for them. They’ll love you because you’ll be doing way cooler things than they ever imagined. And, most importantly, you’ll love you – and you can be girly all the while!

  15. ghoti

    Hi Maya! I’m 22 years old and I’m a software engineering student. That means that I take classes where I learn how to make computers work, both by writing programs and by playing around with wires. Just last semester I built a robot for class with my teammates.

    And just today I was wearing a pink dress :)

  16. Kelly

    Hi Maya! I’m like you too. I like lots of girly things, but also lots of boyish things, like lasers, dinosaurs, bugs and rocks. When I was your age, I loved reading about how the human body looked and worked. Now that I’m grown up, I’m a neuroscientist. That means I study the brain. I get to go to work every day and play with lasers that help us look at neurons (that’s what brain cells are called) and discover new ways to help people learn new things and get better when they get sick or have an accident. Even though I work with lasers and brains all day, I still like to curl my hair and wear lipstick and pretty dresses. And I dance every chance I get! My advice to you is to be yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks, because you’re the only one who can make yourself happy.

  17. Jenn

    Hi Maya!

    I am a 28 years old and I have always loved cars and robots. I loved to go with my uncle and my grandfather to car or tractor shows when I was little. I would get to be up close to see all the gears and I would get all my questions answered. I got to go behind the scenes at a small steam plant and get a personal tour. When I was in middle school, I went to a car museum and got a signed spark plug that was in a race car. I was so exited for that spark plug.

    I also love space. When my grandparents got a new washing machine I lived in that cardboard box for two weeks. It made it into half house and half spaceship. It was my very own space houseboat. I also had all the glow in the dark stars on my walls. I do still dream of going into space and riding a rocket, but now I just build them instead of try to ride in one. My favorite rocket was a 2 liter bottle that I used chocolate pudding instead of water. It made a huge mess but it also went super far.

    I wore all sorts of dresses when I was little. My grandfather once put wooden boards across my flower patch so I could plant my flowers without getting my dress shoes dirty. I still wear dresses and skirts just for the fun of it.

    I have always like to experiment and learn how things work. I have taken apart everything from car parts to game consoles. I have made explosions with baking soda and vinegar as well as diet coke and mentos. My mom once banned me from the kitchen because of all the messes I would make.

    It is more important to be who you are than to try to be someone else. You are the best at who you are, no one else can even try to be as good as you are as yourself. Don’t worry, there are other girls just like you out there and you will find them throughout life. The ones I found are still my close friends even though we met at all sorts of different times: kindergarten, middle school, and college.

    Don’t be afraid to be different, different is what makes people interesting.

  18. Cass

    When I was four years old, I was sent out of kindergarten and to the office because I got in a fight with a boy who kicked over the car-launching ramp I’d made and told me I couldn’t play with the blocks and toy cars, but had to go play house, because that’s what girls did. I liked building things and kicking them down, taking things apart and putting them back together, jumping off of tall things and into messes– but I also liked gymnastics and sparkly nail polish.

    My parents were always happy with who I was and what I liked, but other relatives weren’t. For holidays, I asked for books about ninjas and knights and space ships, and got books about flowers and clothes shopping and princesses. I asked for Legos or video games, a chemistry set or toy microscope or telescope, and got jewelry and dress-up kits and an easy-bake oven and more fake kitchen toys than any child could possibly want. It probably didn’t help that most of my extended family is extremely religious, and believe in rigorously enforced gender roles–and don’t believe in science.

    Some kids at school teased me, some teachers even tried to make me play with the “right toys”. But I found friends, some of whom liked the same things I did and some of whom didn’t, but liked me just the same. My dad got a very low-powered, second hand telescope for the family when I was in grade school. My mom set me loose in the science section of the library most days after school. They let me practically demolish the kitchen mixing baking soda and vinegar and dissolving eggshells and making putty and even doing crude DNA extractions with soap and rubbing alcohol and meat tenderizer.

    Because of my friends and my parents and a few very good teachers (in a mess of indifferent and even awful ones), I never lost my nerd streak. I double majored in biology and chemical engineering, and I’m working on my PhD in the former. I still like sparkly nail polish (and now I like shoes and dresses, too), but I still also like books about space ships and dragons and am counting down the days till Diablo III. I get to play with much better microscopes than I used to.

    At every level–from family and family friends to that boy in kindergarten to grade school and middle school and high school, to college and grad school, I have found people who would rather tear others down than build themselves up and people who like and support me as I am. Your daughter will find these friends and mentors too. People will try to change her, and people will love her for who she is. If you’re among the latter, as my parents were, I think she’ll be more than okay.

  19. poet

    As a kid I had a deep love for dinosaurs and robots and even monsters – and also for fairies and witches and magical sparkly stuff. I liked climbing trees and pretend safaris and building cardboard time machines and lego spaceships – and I also liked making mud cakes and Barbie doll dresses and wearing skirts and hosting tea parties with my stuffed animals and devouring books like nobody’s business. None of this excludes any of the other! I grew up in a time and place where “boy” and “girl” things weren’t as strictly separated so I guess I was very lucky…

  20. Sarah

    Hi!

    Robots are so cool, aren’t they? When I was younger I liked making potions in the garden and being a spy and coming up with secret codes and playing with lego. I LOVED outer space (still do).

    People have funny ideas about how they think other people should act. It confuses them when you like the things you want to like and still turn out a happy, nice person! Confusing people like that is quite fun… :)

  21. Jessica

    Hiya! I’m big sister to three boys; when we were kids, I was the best at climbing trees. When I went to high school, I was the only girl in woodworking class, and one of the only two in advanced maths and physics. After school, I became an aeroplane mechanic, and worked with a whole group of boys as the only girl. Also, I love clothes! I have the biggest collection of clothes of anyone I know, with lots of pink and purple and sparkles and tulle and flowers and butterflies and satin and velvet. I am now a full-time Mum, which is just as much fun as playing with aeroplanes all day, and even harder work. I love to read, I love to sew, and I am the one in the house who changes the lightbulb or fixes the cupboard. I can do whatever I fancy!

  22. Kris

    Hi Maya,

    My name is Kris. One of the things I like about my name is that it can be both a girl’s name and a boys name. I like lots of girlie things like really bright pink, dragonflies and pretty clothes. I love dancing and knitting and putting my long hair in braids. I also love robots (I studied how to make them at university!) and Lego and building things. I work as a fire engineer, which means I design buildings so that they are safe if there is a fire. Actually, I was the first girl in my family to become an engineer (although lots of the boys are too). I don’t like to think of stuff as “boys’ stuff” or “girls’ stuff”, because then I might have missed out on lots of fun!

    I hope you keep liking all the things you really like, and don’t stop because some other girls like different things. You’re not the only girl who likes robots and cars!

  23. Carla emmons

    Hi Maya,
    I’m watching the BBC version of Top Gear right now! I used to play Matchbox cars with my neighbors Bobby and Stephen. My cars are upstairs now, waiting for my daughter to be old enough for them. (she’s only 6 months old right now) Cars are awesome – too awesome for just boys to like them.

    Robots are also too awesome to be hogged by boys. I hope my daughter like robots too because then we can build them together!

    Be brave and be yourself. Be brave and love what you love!
    As you grow up you’ll find that as long as you like who you are, others will too (assuming you’re not a mean jerk ;) ).

    Love & robots to you,
    -Carla-

  24. Stien

    Hi Andrea,

    It is a shame that Maya has left her old interests, because she is susceptible to bullying. Just responding to the subject of the bullying will not fix that. Next time it might be the wrong shade of pink…

    Her being vulnerable to bullying points to Maya’s need to be perfect, in this case being the perfect girl. How does she respond to herself when she spills her milk, when she colors outside the lines? How do you yourself respond to Maya, when she is excellent a something?

    Please, get the root of the problem, search information on how to help her with her insecurity. Otherwise she might be getting bullied to forever, or becomes a bully herself.

    Kind regards,
    Stien
    Hi Maya,

    I like my long hair, but not make-up.
    I love kittens, but also those big black&white cows.
    Picking wild flowers is great, but biking downhill as fast as you can is too.
    I love to Jump and dance, but sleeping can be awesome.
    Butterflies amaze me, but beetles are pretty too.

    What do like?

    Bye,
    Stien

  25. Jess

    Dear Maya,

    My name is Jessica, and I’m in the army, which is a very “boy thing” to do, don’t you think? But I love it. I love the helicopters and combat boots and tanks and guns and playing in the mud. We get to play paintball all the time and wrestle with each other and get super dirty – and it is so much fun! And then I go home and get cleaned up and put on a dress that makes me feel pretty. I let my hair down and pretend I’m princess Rapunzel while I brush it because of how long it’s getting, and because I love princesses and butterflies right alongside my helicopters and combat boots.

    One time while playing paintball with some boys from work we all stopped and held very still for a minute, because a butterfly had landed on the end of one of the boys’ paintball guns. And do you know what happened? All of us, boys and girls, just watched the butterfly standing there fluttering its wings. No one tried to scare it away, not even the big tough boys. Do you know why? Do you know why I can feel like a princess when I’m covered in mud and carrying a gun almost as big as me? Because there’s no such thing as “girl things” and “boy things.” They’re all just people things.

    No one can tell you what you can and can’t like, and if they try to, they’re wrong, simple as that. Only you know what’s in your heart, and I can tell you as a girl who loves getting dressed up & feeling pretty just as much as being tough & getting dirty, that the happiest you can be is when you follow what’s in your heart – ALL of it, not just the half that other people say you should.

    I wish you the best of luck, Maya, and I truly hope you’re able to hang on to all the things you like, and forget anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. ;)

  26. A Daddy

    Maya,

    Don’t let the other girls (or boys) say what you can and cannot like. I know school seems like a big deal right now, and it will seem that way for a while, but when you get to the real world you will find that people will accept you for you. If they don’t, you don’t need them as friends.

    Please keep your love of cars, robots and any other geeky/science interests. That doesn’t mean you need to give up any girlie things. I have several cousins that have gone to science and have great careers and are also very girlie ;)

    Had a proud moment when my lil girl went through a few websites and built her own uber gaming computer :) Add a Tinkerbell mousepad, and some stickers, and it’s a perfectly girlie machine :)

  27. c

    Hey Maya, this article speaks to me in a big way. I’m a girl, and I can do the best french braids you’ve ever seen. I love my brown hair and I like wearing makeup. Dresses are my favorite. And I go to college in the Middle East, on a full-ride scholarship that lets me travel around the world in my free time, and I only just turned 20! I’m not the skinniest or the prettiest, but I think I’m cute, and I have a handsome foreign boyfriend who agrees. Before I went to school, a really pretty and popular girl asked me why I would ever want to go so far away, and I didn’t know what to say. Now, I’m so proud of myself for doing what I knew was right for me, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s! Being a little different is the first step to a lifetime of adventures.

  28. Linda Nicola

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper

    Naval Officer and computer scientist. Personal computers and the Internet wouldn’t exist without her.

    Be strong. Don’t change for others, make them change for you.

    Even Barbie is a computer engineer (I bought her for my daughter).

    My daughter won the California State Fair in Mathematics a few years back.

    There is no such thing as girl things and boy things. Like what you like.

  29. alice

    Hi Maya!
    Don’t listen to anyone who tells you girls can’t like cars or robots. I have a PhD in Bioengineering and have used LEGOs and parts from Radio Shack to build devices that poke and stretch cells and tissues. I’ve worked with robots that screen hundreds of molecules automatically (it is amazing to see them in action!) and now I am doing my postdoctoral research in a developmental biology lab to see how mechanical forces affect the way tissues form. Someday I hope to have my own lab to study these questions. None of this makes me feel any less a girl. I love fashion and have long hair and wear nail polish and makeup every day. I also love movies and books and music and gardening – things that people generally like. There is no such thing as girl things or boy things. I know boys who dress carefully and are bored by sports and love to cook. You are a person first and are free to like anything that interests you!

  30. Louise

    Hi, Maya! My name is Louise. I like all kinds of things and I’m good at a lot of them. My favorite subject in school was math and when I grew up I became an engineer. Now I use my mad computer skills to work for the Red Cross. We help people who have lost their home after a disaster like a hurricane, a fire or a tornado.

    I don’t live in a house. I live in a bus that has been turned into a rolling home! Check out my rock star bus by visiting my website, if you want. I don’t have a car and ride around town on my Yamaha scooter. It is bright blue with a teddy bear on the back seat. His name is Eddie and he keeps me company when I ride.

    Even though my closet is small in the bus, it is filled with pretty skirts and fun shoes! I love to dress up and have tons of scarves in bright colors. Pearls are my favorite jewelry and they make me feel like a princess when I wear them :-)

    Good friends love you for who you are, so be your true self all the time!

  31. Heather

    Hello Maya!

    I can’t tell you I’m a scientist, or an engineer, or an astronaut. Because that would be lying. But up until a month or two ago, I was a crew chief in an armoured car. I got to wear a gun and ride around in a big truck, and when it broke I would help fix it, and I learned how to do basic mechanic work while I was with Brinks. The other neat thing about my old job was, while we usually drove around a delivered money, sometimes we got to see and deal with really interesting stuff! Sometimes it was core samples from mines looking for diamonds. Sometimes it was treasure, like the times we moved gold and silver. Sometimes it was things that would be normal, except for how old they were, like the time they had to deliver a 150 year old bottle of scotch to a symposium.

    When I started, there were only 4 other ladies who worked with me, out of 97 people in total. I think when I left, we were up to 17. Girls don’t have to like only girl things. And boys don’t have to like only boy things neither. If everyone only ever liked the same things all the time, that would be boring. And nobody would ever meet anyone new!

    I like to go to the shooting range. I like to make podcasts. I like to draw little comics about a bear with horns. I also like perfume, and skirts, and nice shoes when I can find them (I have big feet so sometimes it’s hard).

    Don’t let the people at your school try to tell you what you can and can’t like. Because you’re the only person in the whole world who gets to decide what you like, and anyone who tries to force the decision is being a big dumb jerk. People try to make everyone else be the same as them because they’re afraid that if they don’t, nobody will notice them anymore. So yeah, don’t worry about liking robots and cars and anything else. That’s your right as a person.

    And just before I go, my favourite colour is red. :)

  32. Arden

    Hi Maya,

    I’m a guy who likes glitter and camping. Some of my best friends are women who like fixing cars and doing other “boy” stuff. One of my female friends is a mechanical engineer. She has a really cool tool belt and rides a motorcycle. She always wears a helmet and protective clothes! One of the girls I used to babysit for is learning how to break blocks of wood in karate. She loves to swim so much we call her a mermaid. In my family, I bake (excellent) cupcakes and my girlfriend mows the yard. We love what we love not because it is “for girls” or “for boys” but because it is for us. I hope your classmates can widen their horizons. They might find they have the potential to like more than they do.

    Stay strong robot girl!
    There are other girls like you in the world!
    It’s hard to be a girl sometimes but there are people wishing good things your way!

  33. MC

    Hi Maya,

    Very soon I will be finishing my PhD in civil engineering. I study how landfills are lined to protect the environment and people’s health. I also sew and repair my own bicycle. I watch car TV shows with my partner and we argue over which car is the best for different types of driving or racing. I have even driven a car in a race!

    I wear skirts and make-up, and I have long hair, but I try to avoid wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes. I wear glasses.

    It is possible to be beautiful AND intelligent, and use your brain for math, science, engineering, or a trade ( electrician, plumber, pipefitter, etc), or anything else you want to do :)

  34. Jen

    Hi Maya!

    My name is Jen. I work in an office for a hospital, so I dress in girly office clothes and wear makeup, but I make video games that help people learn about cool (and sometimes gross) things. When I was little I liked things that people thought were “boy things” and “girl things”. In my family I’m the youngest, and I only have brothers. They told me that pink and girly stuff was silly, and so I stopped liking pink and I wouldn’t do anything girly. It took me a very long time to realize that I didn’t mind being girly (or silly). But I still like a lot of “boy stuff” too, like video games and cars and climbing things.

    When people say “you should like this” or “you shouldn’t like that” it’s called an opinion. Opinions aren’t facts, you can’t prove them (grass is green is a fact, and dogs are better than cats is an opinion). So when the girls (or boys) say you shouldn’t like something, how do they know? Maybe someone told them that they shouldn’t like it, and that’s why they told you?

    When I was in school, I had girls that would make fun of my clothes, or what I did or didn’t do, or would make fun of my friends. Whether they know it or not, it’s to make them feel better about themselves. There are a lot of people that feel they have to be better than others to make themselves feel special, but they really don’t need to. They are special for being them, and you are special for being you.

    Other people will tell you to ignore what they say, or just don’t listen to them. But I think you should always listen to what people say, and if it’s an opinion, choose for yourself whether what they said was right or wrong for you, because everyone has their own unique opinion, and it can change over time, too.

    I’m sorry to hear that girls at your school said you shouldn’t like cars or robots. But only you can says what you like or don’t like. I know it’s hard to get picked on, but sometimes staying true to what you like might make them like it too.

  35. Alan

    Hello Maya. Here’s a story about a lady I met a few years ago named Esther Takeuchi. She invented the battery that goes into devices that help people with weak hearts. Little did I know at the time that just a few months ago, I would need a device like that. Dr. Takeuchi wants to make sure young women and girls interested in math, engineering, and science like yourself get the chance to follow that interest as far as you would like to take it. Good luck Maya … http://is.gd/0Sam42

  36. Laura

    Hi Maya! I see you’ve gotten lots of great messages from people, about lots of things. I would like to talk mostly about cars!

    First, here is a little bit about me: I am a mom, and I have two kids, a boy and a girl. I like a lot of different kinds of things, like lipstick and flowers and music and power tools and hockey and cars. My favorite “girl” thing is a yellow headband I have with a flower on it, and my favorite “boy” thing is my hammer drill.

    I think it’s very sad that some people think girls should not think about cars, because girls drive cars and ride in cars all the time, and people should think about the things they use all the time! We use all kinds of cool things that were invented by other people, and I love finding out more about how things work. People are clever to have thought of so many things, and built them, and the only way to figure out even MORE cool things is to think about them.

    My mom taught me how to change a flat tire on a car when I was not much older than you, and how to check the oil. I know how to take care of my cars, but what I really like is driving cars and looking at cars, because to me they are very interesting!

    When I was 9 years old I found out about Lamborghini, which is a car company that makes really fast cars — cars so fast and exciting to drive that they are called “supercars”. I had a big poster of a Lamborghini Countach over my dollhouse, and I used to pretend that was the car my Barbies drove. The Countach isn’t made anymore, but you can look up pictures of it on the Internet. It had the coolest doors and it didn’t look like any other car I had ever seen!

    A lot of cars look the same, so when you see cars that look different, they can be so much fun to think about. Why do they look like they look? How are they put together? Why did someone design it that way? What sorts of things make a car look fast, or slow, or cool?

    Some other things I like to think about, with cars: What can you see around you in different cars? How does the engine sound? Does the car feel kind of squishy and soft to drive, or rough and rumbly? What kinds of decisions did the people who designed the car make, to make a car feel or sound a certain way?

    It’s true that some people might not think girls should think of those things. But these are not “boy” things to think of, no matter what people say. “Boy” things and “girl” things are both just different kinds of _people_ things, and being curious about all sorts of people things is normal and healthy.

    It’s true that some people will probably tease you about liking “boy” things. It’s hard for that not to hurt. Try to remember that those people are wrong and do not know any better, and that only you get to decide what you like and do not like, and what you want to think about. A lot of kids your age, when they get older, will figure that out on their own.

  37. Rivka

    Hi Maya!
    I am a mechanical and civil engineering student. In school, I love solving for the forces in all the different parts of a bridge, writing computer programs, figuring out difficult math problems, and learning about complicated machines. Besides for being a student, I work for a wind development company. Have you ever seen huge wind turbines on the side of the highway? They generate the electricity we need to turn on the light and bake cookies. I work for a department which figures out which spots have the best wind to blow the turbines. I am the only girl in my department. My supervisor knows that I am smart, responsible, and hardworking, and at the end of the semester, I always get an excellent evaluation.
    Because of my religion, I can only wear skirts and dresses. At first, I hated that I couldn’t blend in with all the men by wearing jeans, but I have started to love wearing pretty and feminine clothing! I am very interested in vintage clothing, and I buy unique and beautiful skirts and dresses from the fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties. Sometimes I worry that people will think I’m too different or not very smart because I am interested in style, but I have realized that these people are not worth being friends with. Anyway, as soon as people work with me on a project, they realize that I am intelligent and studious.
    So don’t let anyone decide for you what you can and cannot be interested in. Sometimes it is difficult to go against the grain, but it is worth it in the end. Trust me!

  38. Robin

    Maya, you can like whatever you want to like! The truth is that the world is FULL of fantastic things that come in all varieties imaginable.
    I am the youngest of 4 (2 girls and 2 boys) so I ended up with a mixture of toys and clothes when I was your age. My big brother’s Transformers and Micro Machines were just as fun to play with as Barbie and My Little Ponies! I wore my brother’s old shirts and even some of my boy cousin’s old clothes. By high school I wouldn’t wear anything other than sneakers, and most of them I picked out from the boy’s section.
    When I was younger than you, I made myself a Lego camera that was “able to capture” black and white,color, and pastel pictures. My plastic nuts and bolts and screws were just likely to end up in my play purse as lip gloss.
    I haven’t figured out what I want to be “when I grow up” yet,even though I’m almost 30. This is because everyone in my life (except my best friend) has been telling me that I should be a teacher or a nurse or other careers that are often “girl careers”. But I do not want to be these things and so I AM NOT. I decided that I need to be MYSELF even if other people don’t agree or understand.
    I am about to buy a house with my husband and I think that I am more excited about getting tools than he is! I can’t wait to get dirty making a garden, make built in shelving, put in new tiles and refinish the wood floors, and build a big closet to protect all my pretty dresses and shoes and purses!
    I’m sure that lots of grown ups will tell you that you should never pretend to be someone that you aren’t. It’s true! As you get older you will learn about many people in history (boys and girls!) that dared to be themselves and changed the world for the better. Like whatever makes you happy. Be yourself. It is tough at first, but it’s worth it. It’s ALWAYS worth it.

  39. D

    Hello Maya!

    I think cars and robots are a wonderful thing to like, don’t stop for anyone! I love pink, and wearing dresses, and swing dancing, and glitter. I maintain a style blog for the fun of it. But I am also a geologist, and a roller derby player. I go on adventures in the mountains, and I make maps for a living. I play video games and read comic books. You can be whoever you want to be. Those girls don’t know what they are missing!

  40. Rebecca

    Hi Maya,

    I am a bellydancer who is going to graduate school for Human-Computer Interaction in the fall. My hair is very long and I love wearing red lipstick, being a woman, and performing onstage. I am also fascinated by computers and I plan on working with robots in some capacity in the future. Do not let anyone tell you that you should not be interested in the things that you are naturally interested in! You are lucky to be interested in so many amazing things. Explore your interests, and become friends with the people who support you.

    Rebecca

  41. Sarah

    Hi, Maya. My name’s Sarah, and I’m a forensic scientist. I test DNA to help the police solve crimes.

    When I was your age, and for manymany years after that, my daddy and I would watch car races on TV every Sunday. I knew all the drivers’ names, their numbers, and the colors and logos of their cars. It was one of my favorite things to do with my dad.

    I’m 34 now and I still keep matchbox cars of my favorite racecars in my desk at the lab.

    I think you should like whatever strikes your fancy, and learn everything you can about the things you love. When you do that, you’ll find friends who’ll like you for who you are. Those are the best kind of friends to have.

  42. sallie

    Hi Maya!
    I think you’re totally awesome for loving cars! My name is Sallie and I really REALLY love pink! Its my favorite color. I also really love to wear my hair in braids and curls and I make all my own clothing which is really fun because I can make some really pretty dresses AND some awesome jeans and t-shirts.

    I’m an artist and spend most of my time in a woodshop working with power tools. I learned how to do a lot of this stuff from my dad and husband because typically its men who build things. But the things I build are beautiful and tough and feminine.

  43. Penelope

    Hey Maya – you can like pink and princesses and cars and robots, and I think you’re awesome for it. My favorite color is turquoise, personally, but I love big flowing skirts and painting my toenails and fun sandals and eyeliner. I have also helped rebuild the engine of my car and get excited every day knowing I drive around a car that *I* put the engine back in.

    Andrea- If you aren’t already familiar with the works of Catherynne Valente, I highly recommend the book “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making”. It might be a little old for Maya but it’s the sort of story I think she’ll enjoy.

  44. Phoebe

    Hi Maya,
    My name is Phoebe and I study computer science. As far as I know it’s the subject with the most guys compared to girls out of everything you can study at my university.
    People are always surprised when I tell them what I study because they expect everyone who does computer science to be men with giant beards, but I don’t care because I love my subject!
    I know how hard it is to be bullied at school, but hang in there. When you’re older you’ll be so much happier if you do what you love, and hopefully as you grow up people will realise that you are a wonderful person with your own wonderful interests which can be whatever you love.
    As someone who knows how hard bullying can be, if you need to pretend you don’t like cars to get through school then you do whatever is best for you, but don’t give up on the things you love. If you can’t be who you really are at school then make up for it outside of school by doing the things you love at home, and hopefully one day you’ll find friends who are smart enough to realise that anyone can like cars, not just boys.

  45. Christina

    Hi Maya!

    My daughter just turned 4. She loves robots, and cars, and spaceships. She begs her daddy every Saturday to take her with him when he goes to the auto parts store or dirt track race, and a couple months ago she went to her very first monster truck race! She tells me all the time that when she grows up, she wants to fly a rocketship. But, she also loves princesses and dress up and fairies. Want to be pen pals? You Mom can email me if you would like to.

  46. Evelyn

    Hi Maya! I just got my Ph.D. in math. I’m a girl, and I love to sew, bake, and wear fun outfits that express my creativity and personality. I have very long hair, and I like to braid it in a lot of different ways. I guess some people think those are girl things. I love to solve mathematical puzzles, play sports, get behind the wheel of my car for a road trip, learn about bugs and snakes, and watch sci-fi shows. I guess some people think those are boy things. I love to ride a bike and play musical instruments and sing. I don’t know if people think those are boy things or girl things. I just know I like them, and in my life it is my goal to surround myself with things that make me happy and help me grow. I hope that you can do the same with all the fun things you love.

  47. Liz

    Hi Maya!
    I am 22 and tomorrow I start a new job at a tech firm where I will be the only girl in the whole company! That could make me feel like an outcast but instead I think it makes me extra special. I read above that someone suggested to ask your schoolmates why it’s weird for you to like cars, and that sounds like a great idea to me! There’s no reason at all you shouldn’t like both pink tutus and awesome robots. I’m a fan of both myself.
    I wish you all the best Maya and I’m routing for you!
    Liz

  48. Rae

    Hiya Maya!

    I hear you don’t like cars anymore. I am here to tell you that I, like your mother, am a gorgeous girl who wears heels, pink and a skirt almost everyday. I like the girly dresses and the most inspirational women in my life wear spectacular shoes!

    And guess what these women do! One was a scientist, a professor of immunology. Another is a professor of biochemistry. A third is a Minister for Social Development who wears leopard print jackets to work. A fourth is my sister who also wears the girl dresses and orders the engineers she works with around.

    I like cars! I LOVE LEGO!!! I always have. I like tinkering with things and fixing them with my dad. I also love dolls and make up and earrings.

    Those other girls are mean. The girls who will have all the money and the glory are the ones who like the cars and the stinky things (like the bacteria I used to play with at work or the rivers I now play with at work) as well as the pink and the pretty.

    Be yourself, honey, you will know all the boys that the girls want to know and all the girls that the boys want to know one day which will make you the coolest. :D

    Rae

  49. Erin

    Hi Maya,

    I just started my first job at a tech start up company that guess what? Is all about shopping and fashion! I started out in art but then realized how much I love computers and technology, so I got a degree in computer science/ graphic design instead. In fact, I am going back to school and to get a full Computer Science degree or perhaps a Masters in Computer Programming because as I’m looking around there are too few women in my workplace. My sisters are also scientists. One works in biochemistry and the other as a surgeon, and we think that it’s not fair that women are told that they can’t do these jobs, because they totally can! I also wear dresses and heels to work, with red lipstick ALWAYS. And of course, the men that I work with call me “The Princess” :) since I’m the only woman programmer here. I would prefer The Queen but The Princess will do fine since I’m only 21. But hopefully I’ll grow into that title.
    So I want you to keep loving cars and robots, because one of my dreams is to go into artificial intelligence and program robots (my favorite author is Isaac Asimov) and I want to work with girls like you as well as all of my guys. So don’t listen to those girls, they’re just being silly and you should know that you can do anything you want. But if you want to go into tech, know that we sorely need you because I’d like to have someone I can talk about Prada as well as API modules with someday.
    Love,
    Erin

    P.S. all of the guys I work with agree with me, they say that they’re tired of stupid girls who are busy trying to please everyone and want someone smart that they can talk with as well and can discover things with them.

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