“There’s a point where many girls and young women tell themselves, ‘I’m just not good at math,’” said Zoe Hinck, an engineer and the founder of Santa Barbara Women in STEM, which encourages women and girls to expand their professional interest and goals in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, where they remain far outnumbered by men.
“It’s community-oriented groups like ours that will equip women of all ages with the confidence to pursue any career, even ones that, at first, may seem too hard,” Hinck said, her smile warming the determination in her eyes. What made the difference for her? Access to role models, mentorship, and a growth mind-set.
After a fruitless search for a Santa Barbara organization that could provide support and camaraderie, Hinck decided to create one. “I realized that if I wanted this group to exist, I was going to have to make it happen myself.” She invited a few friends to join her at a downtown café for a “low-key happy hour to gauge interest.” To her surprise, 55 women showed up. Hinck had stumbled upon a hidden treasure of enthusiasm and untapped potential.
Afterward, many of the attendees approached Hinck to request invites to future gatherings. While these professional women had always been here, it was the first time they’d come together with a mutual goal: to buoy each other as they waded through the sometimes perilous waters in the STEM fields.
Maygan Cline, a geologist at Geosyntec Consultants and a lead mentor for Santa Barbara Women in STEM (SBWiSTEM), said her first role model was her mother. “During a time when the workplace was often a man’s world, she made sure to mentor other women at her agency to help them achieve the title and pay that they deserved,” she said.
Cline’s strengths-based approach to advising other women includes résumé review, mock interviews, goal-setting discussions, and, when called for, hugs. One of Cline’s mentees, Paige Tripp, attributed the offer she received to be an environmental scientist at Tetra Tech in large part to Cline’s help. “Because Maygan explained the nuts and bolts listed in the job description, I walked into the interview exhibiting more knowledge about the environmental industry than I imagined I could,” Tripp said.
Since the first SBWiSTEM gathering in July, more than 150 women have attended the group’s events. Partner companies LogicMonitor, Agilent Technologies, and Riskin Partners have all donated their space, time, and expertise.
These and other Santa Barbara STEM firms are interested in recruiting qualified female candidates into their ranks, and now with SBWiSTEM, there’s a pipeline that helps them do just that. A list of area STEM career openings can be found on the SBWiSTEM website (sbwomeninstem.org) along with how to become a partner company.
The next networking workshop is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7, at LogicMonitor Inc., located at 820 State St., in downtown Santa Barbara.