MISSION, RGV – Mission Economic Development Corporation is to host a mixer and free lunch for female participants in FIRST RGV events.

The ‘Women Are FIRST’ event takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this coming Saturday during the FIRST Tech Challenge being held at Royal Technologies in Mission.

Cristina Garza, director of social impact for Mission EDC, explained why the group is hosting the mixer.

Cristina Garza (Photo: Shaine Mata)

“We are thrilled to see the growing involvement of Mission girls in STEM programs such as FIRST Robotics. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the bright students from Alton Memorial Junior High and was struck by the girls’ determination to become role models to other girls wanting to join Robotics. This event celebrates them,” Garza said.

Garza pointed out that Texas currently has close to 50,000 computing jobs open. “That’s only a fraction of STEM jobs, but only one percent of those jobs are going to Hispanic women,” she said.

Garza said high-paying, technical jobs will continue to grow over the coming years. 

“Will our workforce be ready to meet this growing demand? When we look at our city’s demographic, our population is 51.7 percent female and 88.6 percent Hispanic, meaning that the majority of our constituents are statistically less likely to end up in a high-earning STEM job, and therefore, less likely to achieve financial mobility and have the kind of disposable income that makes city flourish,” Garza said.

“Encouraging gender equity in STEM professions is not only morally right, but the only financially-sound decision to support.”

Those attending the mixer can receive one-on-one advice from FIRST RGV and Mission EDC staff. FIRST RGV aims to ignite a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) among students. The non-profit administers FIRST Tech Challenge. Royal Technologies’ address is 1200 Trinity Street in Mission.

Jason Arms, president of FIRST RGV, said 40 percent of the students that compete in FIRST RGV’s robotics events are female. 

“We are proud that so many of our participants are young women. I encourage the public to attend our events to see just how talented they are,” Arms said. 

Arms added that any female involved in a FIRST RGV program is welcome to attend the mixer. He said it is not limited to those participating in Saturday’s robotics competition. 

FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. It was started in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen.

The mission of FIRST is to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

Kamen said the vision of FIRST is “to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”