The Future Looks Bright: SISTERS Visit Babcock Labs

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The future looks bright! How do we know? This month Babcock Labs hosted local middle school students who toured our facilities and learned about environmental testing careers. These future scientists and engineers are part of the Success in Science & Technology: Engagement with Role-models (SISTERS) program.

The goal of SISTERS is to engage middle school girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and provide mentors who will help prepare them to pursue a career in one of the STEM fields. The program is a partnership between UCR College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences (UCR CNAS), Riverside Unified School District (RUSD), and the City of Riverside Citizens Science Committee.

Approximately 30 middle schoolers funneled into the Babcock Labs conference room on January 16th, where they were welcomed by our CEO, Allison Mackenzie. Information packets presented to the students contained some “research” questions that could be answered by participating in the various scheduled activities. There was a lab tour activity where students put on personal protective equipment—laboratory coats and goggles—and toured the Microbiology and Metals laboratories. The lab managers spoke with the students about the type of analyses performed and instrumentation used in their respective department, as well as how our testing helps to protect the environment and public health. There was also a panelist activity where students heard from personnel about their education and current position at Babcock Labs, and the role that math and science play in their jobs. Students had the opportunity to ask our staff questions, and they had quite a few! It was a very fun and educational morning.

Our involvement with SISTERS is not only a great experience and opportunity for these middle schoolers, it is also rewarding for our staff who care deeply about supporting young people in STEM, especially young women who have historically faced more barriers hindering entry into these fields. Babcock Labs currently employs 83 talented and dedicated staff members. Of those 83 laboratory and administrative professionals, women make up 66 percent of our total workforce. As a 100 percent employee-owned company, this means that the majority of our owners are women. What's more, women make up a high percentage of our organization's management team. This is rather extraordinary for a STEM-field company and something to be proud of, as women still remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce in the United States.

As Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Babcock Labs endeavors to exemplify equal opportunity and gender equity in the workplace, and we hope that our STEM company and talented staff serve as role models for our children and community. Science is the future. Our students are the future. And, judging by the intelligent young minds we met this month, the future looks bright!