Woman holds up hand covered in pebbles at Shell Beach in California

Women in

Explore Femme STEM to come face to face with the stories of Cal Poly women who are in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, who each have a goal to make a lasting mark in their fields. Step into the shoes and minds of some of the most passionate women in STEM on Cal Poly's campus and learn about their experiences and motivations to succeed.


Marine Sciences sophomore Janelle Ross walks on Shell Beach Jan. 28. She says she has always seen the ocean as a therapeutic place for her and has always enjoyed the water, the ocean creatures and even the rocks pulled in by the tide. “It’s really is another world down there, and you realize the vastness and separation from the land,” Ross said. “But I never thought about the science aspect until I realized where I wanted to go for college.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt Currently, Ross studies muscles with Biological Sciences Teaching Associate Alycia Uyeoka at the Cal Poly Marine Science Pier. “The more of my STEM classes I take in my field and the more research I do, the more I learn about how ecstatic I am about my major. I even looked down at one of my midterms and even though it was a test, I had a moment where I realized ‘wow, I really do love this.’ I mean it’s really is amazing.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt Ross says her main priority and source of empowerment in STEM is her passion for the earth. “I feel that my field used to be male dominated, but I have met so many female marine biologists that know what they’re doing, and you really respect them and look up to them,” Ross said. “It’s empowering to me that I am doing something to positively impact the planet, no matter my gender. It’s more important the impact I’m making.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt Child Development sophomore Rose Brownridge has an Equine Science minor and is Horse Manager of the Cal Poly Polo Team. Rose found her love for horses at a young age and worked through middle school and high school to afford lessons. She started competitively riding Hunters, a style of English jumping, at 13-years-old. “I’ve always wanted to be around horses. After I started taking lessons, I was just hooked,” Brownridge said. Photo: Rachel Marquardt Brownridge rides her horse Mia at the Central Coast Polo Club Jan.27. She says she is looking to use her major, minor and extracurricular activities to become an equine-facilitated psychotherapist and eventually open a therapeutic riding center for children. “It’s really the natural world verses the technological world - letting kids be outside and ride horses- there are so many health benefits to these activities,” Brownridge said. Photo: Rachel Marquardt Brownridge says she has had to work hard to get to her position, and will need to work more in the future to prove herself in her field, “Typically upper level horseback riding is a man’s world, and so is Polo. You have to prove yourself as a horseman and prove your worth before anyone is going to respect you, and you have do do that even more if you are a woman. But it’s all worth it.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt Electrical Engineering senior Arielle Cohen never questioned her path to becoming an engineer. “I always knew I would do physics, or math or engineering. It was never a question. As you’re growing up you wonder what you find interesting, and for me it was always math, or physics,” Cohen said. “I always have the most fun when it comes to problem solving, which is a large part of my major too.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt Cohen works on a CubeSat at PolySat’s lab Jan. 29. As Lab Manager for PolySat, Cohen manages an on campus student-run organization where students build CubeSats, tiny satellites that will eventually orbit in space. “It’s interesting because when you decide to do engineering as a major you never think ‘I’ll be a manager.’ But it is a really cool balance, because the work that I’m doing is about satellites, which I am passionate about, but my day-to-day is based on more functional responsibilities that I’ve learned.”  Photo: Rachel Marquardt Though she is part of the 25.8 percent of females in the College of Engineering, Cohen says she does not feel unmotivated within her job or her major because of this statistic, “I’ve definitely found myself in positions where I find I’m the only girl in the room, but that was never something that deterred me from getting into engineering or STEM,” Cohen said. Photo: Rachel Marquardt Earth and Soil Sciences senior Adri Long visits recently planted trees at the Cal Poly Experimental Farm Jan. 29. Long says that her love for the planet and nature has been present since the beginning of her life, but her love for sustainability stemmed from her time living in Mexico, where she witnessed a culture where trash was thrown on the streets without care. Long says she has been captivated by the beauty of nature and has searched for ways she can make an impact on the planet through her own personal choices and sustainable living. “I’ve always been completely entranced with the natural world,” Long said. Photo: Rachel Marquardt Long says she wasn’t quite sure where she was going for college while living in her hometown, Chico, Calif. However, she knew of her love for the planet and planned to pursue making an impact wherever she decided to go. When choosing Cal Poly, she became invested in Green Campus, the on-campus sustainability organization she now leads. “I didn’t really know where I was going to go, but when I got into Cal Poly with Earth Science, everything became clear,” Long said. “When learning about soil science and ecology, and the infinite complexities of the natural world, you can always stay curious and excited about things that happen all the time.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt In her future, Long says she hopes to make her mark in a male-dominated field. “Now that I have been reading about ecology and history of different scientific genres, I realize most of them are dominated by men. In my future I want to empower other women so they know they can work hard and follow their curiosities in the same way,” Long said. “I want to be able to read an ecology textbook in years and have it have the research women have done as well as men, and their contributions to science as a whole.” Photo: Rachel Marquardt


Click on the images to hear the perspectives of Electrical Engineering senior and Society of Women Engineers Officer Lauren Williams, Industrial Engineering junior and QL+ Lab Lead Addie Hedge and Aerospace Engineering senior and PolySat Lab Lead Cassandra Kraver; three engineering students who all feel their fields have left a lasting impact on their lives (women listed are placed left to right).

Close up of Engineering Student Lauren Williams /> Close up of Engineering Student Addie Hedge /> Close up of Engineering Student Cassandra Kraver />


Learn about Sustainability Summit Coordinator Adriana Long and her experience speaking at the summit and motivating Cal Poly students to join together and fight climate change.


Women in STEM