VUB researcher on list of ‘30 Women in Robotics You Need to Know’

Summary

PhD student Marwa ElDiwiny of BruBotics represents a minority of researchers and engineers working in robotics with both her gender and ethnic background

‘My goal is to inspire young women’

Marwa ElDiwiny, a doctoral researcher in robotics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), has been included in Robohub’s list of 30 Women in Robotics You Need to Know About. Robohub is a non-profit online communication platform that brings together experts in robotics research, start-ups, business and education from across the globe.

Robohub publishes the list in order to increase the visibility of women in robotics, because the lack of it “leads to the unconscious perception that women do not make newsworthy contributions”.

ElDiwiny, a PhD student at VUB's BruBotics, is working to model and simulate self-healing soft materials for robotics applications. Her master’s thesis focused on anti-stealth technology for safe operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.

When I was little, I told my mother ‘I am no ordinary girl, I want to make a difference in the world’

- Marwa ElDiwiny

The 29-year-old has worked as a research engineer at Inria Lille-Nord Europe and as a research scientist at the Tartu Institute of Technology in Estonia. She has also participated in the Mechatronics and Industrial Robotics Programme at the University of Minia in Egypt.

In addition, ElDiwiny hosts the Soft Robotics podcast, where researchers from academia and industry are interviewed in English about flexible robotics.

“When I was little, I told my mother ‘I am no ordinary girl, I want to make a difference in the world’. My goal is to inspire young women to believe in themselves, to find their passion and to pursue a career in robotics and AI for the common good.”

‘Under-represented’

Women make up less than one-quarter of people working in the natural and applied sciences and related professions and still earn less on average than their male colleagues. The issue is even more difficult if you are a person of colour.

Professor of robotics Bram Vanderborght, ElDiwiny’s promoter, wrote the following about this in March in IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine: “Scientists are starting to consider how gender biases materialise in physical robots,” said Bram Vanderborght, VUB robotics professor and ElDiwiny’s mentor. “The danger is that robot makers, consciously or not, reinforce gender stereotypes and inadvertently create even greater deterrents for young, under-represented people interested in joining our field.”