Steminist Squad

Steminist Squad

Steminist Squad

Wondering what our CS students are up to nowadays since the world has moved online? Well one student from our department took this time to help a sister out, quite literally. Talia Tomarchio, along with some friends, has developed a competitor to websites like Chegg and LinkedIn to give women in STEM access to knowledge and resources to further their careers. Steminist Squad is creating a community for female students and professionals in STEM to aid them and give them resources to become more successful. But enough summarizing from me, let's hear from Talia about all the great work she’s done this past year.

Talia started out working as a tutor monitor in the CS department and noticed there was a serious lack of female students in the workroom and department. The feeling of being the only girl in a classroom is isolating. After Coronavirus hit, Talia felt especially uncomfortable and intimidated by the online tutoring center. She took the break time that the pandemic provided to further her research into the gender disparity. At a conference at Kean University, she met a female senior researcher from IBM, Wendy Chong, who inevitably became her mentor and started building Steminist Squad by creating an interview series of her professional industry knowledge.

When asked what the biggest challenge was getting the nonprofit off the ground, Talia responded with two things: First, although she found Kim Davis from ASRC and Wendy to interview, she quickly realized how hard it was to find other professionals outside of her network to interview. On top of that, she realized it may be hard for some members to relate to the professionals. This challenge helped her pivot the project to be more student centered and is working on creating a podcast to interview peers. Secondly, while Talia is well proficient when it came to the technical aspect, she realized quickly she was very unaware of the marketing and business aspect to make the project successful. Going through the Rowan Idea Challenge helped Talia understand some the fundamentals of business and entrepreneurship. In the beginning, she had found it hard to get the word out to anyone that the community even existed. Steminist Squad was launched around September and currently has 70 members. Winning the IDEA Challenge gave Talia hope that her small Summer project will grow into a successful nonprofit that will help young women all across the country, and she is planning on reaching out to other schools outside of Rowan this year. She wrote the pseudocode for Steminist Squad, now all she has to do is debug and run! 

1 Million Cups is a platform for entrepreneurs to present their ideas to local communities. To prepare for the 1 Million Cups Tampa event, Talia went through the Rowan IDEA Challenge last year and KPMG’s Ideation Challenge in January where she learned foundational business skills. She also recommends to anyone who wants to create a start up in the future to go to workshops that are offered by the Entrepreneurship Department. Talia admits that she didn’t know much about business as a CS student, and the workshops really gave her the tools to prepare her for the future. Having a concrete idea of what your idea will be and how to make it work are important to succeed in these challenges. She is extremely grateful for having these opportunities that Rowan is giving her.

In the next year, Talia hopes to get at least 20 partnerships with other universities, have a national all women stem conference in five years. She is currently working on creating a data model of a “model student” (pun intended) to identify the relevant gaps in industry prep by analyzing the success of Steminst Squad members over time, and hopefully this data model can be combined with industry and academia input to create the most efficient and successful “model”. This will be able to predict trends and pivot how we prepare young women for stem careers.

When asked how her education and experience at Rowan aided her in the process of creating Steminist Squad, she stated that a lot of it couldn’t be done without her professor’s support. If she hadn’t experienced the hands-on environment at Rowan, Talia believes she wouldn’t have known or been prepared to take the steps to start the project. She says, “being in school isn’t just textbooks, it's about being open to opportunities to grow and create and find a support system for big career goals.” Without the people around her, she wouldn’t have had the confidence to enter an idea competition and start a huge project like this as a woman. She’s also gone to lots of the conferences on and off campus. She believes that those types of events open doors, opens your eyes, and gives you the exposure to find your path. 

Talia’s final regards were simple: Start small, big ideas can come from anywhere. Even a small venture at Rowan could grow into something nationally beneficial to not only women in STEM but the industry as a whole. Take advantage of all the opportunities that Rowan has to offer. If you're curious as to what Steminist Squad is up to, you can check them out on Instagram where they have inspirational posts and a really cool #MajorMonday series: @steministsquad. They also have an amazing website you can check out at:, or a if you want to join their online community, their Discord invite link is: