Women in STEM

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The acronym can be used to address an educational field or the industry. Within the last few years the STEM industry has been expanding with many students entering college studying different STEM fields. Historically, the STEM field and industry has been primarily male dominated but as more females enter STEM the problem of gender equality and sexism has become prominent.

STEM and Women

Recently, there has been an increase of women entering the STEM industry. Historically, women have been underrepresented and discriminated within the STEM educational field and industry. With this, Women make up approximately 50% of the world's work force. However, when it pertains to the STEM industry, women make up only 25% of the work force. Climbing Mountains in STEM is meant to capture and document the journey professionals and the future generation of women entering STEM.

WISH's Cosmic Rube Goldberg Challenge

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo is one of the most renowned public universiies for its engineering and architectural programs. With this, WISH, Women in in Sofrware and Hardware, is a popular engineering club on campus. This one of many engineering clubs on campus.

Every year, a group of engineering clubs hosts the popular COSMIC:Rube Goldberg challenge.COSMIC stands for Complex Over SImple Machine Innovation Challenge. This year, the event was hosted by the infamous engineering company, Lockheed Martin. Groups of students were asked to create a cereal-pouring machine within a two-hour timespan.

9:30 a.m. October 7, 2017. It’s a Saturday morning and Jodie Ma, computer science sophomore, steps into the lobby to sign in to the COSMIC: Rube Goldberg challenge hosted by Cal Poly’s WISH: Women in Software and Hardware club. | PC: KVeloso The event, COSMIC, stands for Complex Over Simple Machine Innovation, a DIY task to create your own machine using common materials. This year’s challenge – to build a machine that pours cereal from a box into a bowl within two hours. | PC: KVeloso Though the challenge may seem simple, each machine is judged carefully on its creativity, durability, explanation, and success by representatives of Lockheed Martin, a well-known aerospace engineering company. | PC: KVeloso Lockheed Martin’s purpose of sponsoring the event was to integrate creativity and reality into an engineering challenge. Sandra Warren, aeronautics representative of Lockheed Martin, stated, “Each team is given a set of ingredients and a set of requirements that they have to use to design their project. And that’s real world.” | PC: KVeloso Despite WISH hosting the event, many other cultural professional clubs were asked to join. Clubs such as Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). WISH hoped to create an environment in which underrepresented students in the STEM field had the ability to socialize and display their creativity and skills in a fun environment. | PC: KVeloso Natasha Cortez, software engineer senior and Corporate Director of WISH said, “A lot of these clubs are centered are major related and promote diversity for underrepresented groups within our fields. The goal of this event is to build comradery and garner creativity for fun.” | PC: KVeloso Equipped with glue guns, duct tape, pvc pipes, and more, each team worked endlessly to construct a working machine. With this, students have created pulleys, slides, and different mechanisms that are incorporated into their cereal-pouring-machine. | PC: KVeloso Despite what many think, the STEM event was highly focused on the connection between creativity and engineering. Daniel Webber, electrical engineering junior, said, “There’s a lot of great engineers here and there’s a lot of creativity. I just want to see all this creativity come to life.” | PC: KVeloso The greatest challenge, however, was making their ideas come to life within the time constraint. There is a difference between having an idea and carrying out those creative ideas. With this, note that each team must explain each energy transfer of their cereal machine in the final showcase. It takes a certain amount of creativity and knowledge of engineering and physics to complete the challenge. | PC: KVeloso In the end, each team encountered troubling obstacles in the midst of creating their machine. Here, Katie Coleman, electrical engineering junior, is photographed after a successful dry run of their DIY domino-pipe canon. | PC: KVeloso In the end, all the teams gathered around each of their machines to see how they worked and whether or not they were successful. The analysis and explanations were pertinent to the challenge and each attendee listened carefully. Altogether, the COSMIC: Rube Goldberg Challenge was a successful event that allowed engineers to think creatively and work realistically. | PC: KVeloso

Jiamin's Journey

Jiamin Chen is an architectural engineering senior. Born and raised in Oakland, California, Jiamin tells the story of her journey into STEM and how that brought her to Nepal.

Professor's Advice

STEM Professors give advice to the future generation of women entering STEM. With 10+ years of professional experience, professors present life and career lessons that they've learned working in the male-dominated feel and how their student can prepare.

Women in STEM: Education and Employment

The STEM industry has large gender gap between the employment of men and wome in these career fields. With this, women still remain underrepresented in their respective STEM fields. Even employed, women in STEM fields still face a large wage gap despite being of equal qualifications.

Women in STEM: Education and Employment