As I mentioned in a previous blog, Kern County Women in STEM is gearing up to do amazing things for women in our local area. In this Q&A, I interview another member of the organization, Cheryl Scott, Executive Director of the Bakersfield College Foundation.
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
As executive director of the Bakersfield College Foundation, I help connect the college with the community, and provide opportunities for individuals and businesses to support BC in lots of different ways.
Many people in Bakersfield have a heart for BC, usually because they or a family member attended. Often, those supporters like to make an impact by funding scholarships for students. We also enjoy tremendous support from local businesses and employers. After all, our students represent the future of Kern County and our workforce!
Having a background in economic development, one of my favorite ways to create connections is by talking with employers and identifying (or creating) opportunities for them to get involved in campus programs.
Why is encouraging women in STEM careers so important?
There are so many great reasons we should encourage girls and women to pursue STEM education and careers! Working at Bakersfield College, I love seeing our faculty encourage students to explore their options. The opportunities are endless, and thanks to the fact that STEM jobs generally pay considerably more than non-STEM jobs, they can set a woman up to be successful and self-sufficient. Employers can help, too. For example, Phillips 66 has established a scholarship at BC for women studying STEM disciplines.
How can we encourage more young women to follow the STEM path?
First, it’s critical to allow—actually, encourage—young girls to explore disciplines and hobbies that may not be considered traditional for girls. Research shows that girls will embrace STEM-oriented activities when their friends are also interested and having fun with them. That makes complete sense!
Numbers show that girls’ interest in STEM tends to falter as they get older and progress through high school and enter college. We need to pay special attention to that age group, because it’s not just about getting girls TO a STEM education, but also getting them THROUGH it and into a STEM career (if that’s what they choose, of course).
Female role models and networks are important at all ages, from elementary school through college. (In fact, I would say they continue to be important throughout a woman’s career, in the form of support networks or mentors.)
What do you hope KC Women in STEM will bring to the community?
Funny enough, I do not work in STEM myself! But I do have a real interest in promoting it among women in our community, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned (and more). With the pandemic behind us, I’m excited to be joining with our KC Women in STEM group to explore new ways to expand our reach and bring topics of interest to women working in STEM, and younger women considering careers in the arena.
Does Bakersfield College do anything to specifically encourage women in STEM? Are there any campus organizations they can participate in?
The Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Club teams up with the Engineers’ Club to bring students together each week, under the guidance of Maryam Farahani (who is an engineer by trade and also an associate professor on campus). The clubs work on engineering projects, and they learn from professors and practicing professionals that come talk about their experiences working in STEM careers.
Cheryl Scott has extensive experience managing non-profit and public-private partnerships that serve Kern County. She joined the Bakersfield College Foundation as executive director in July 2020, after 15 years at the Kern Economic Development Corporation & Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications (minor in business administration) and an MS in Administration, both from California State University, Bakersfield.
Debbie Charpentier has been serving clients since 1989 by using a holistic, comprehensive approach that helps clients create the life they value and the legacy they envision. Charpentier Wealth Strategies is a Bakersfield, CA Financial Planning practice that offers fee-based financial planning services. To contact Debbie, email Debbie.Charpentier@LFG.com. http://charpentierwealth.com/ Debbie Charpentier is a registered representative offering securities and investment advisory services through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., (Member SIPC). Charpentier Wealth Strategies is a marketing name for registered representatives of Lincoln Financial Advisors. CRN-3883749-102521