Three CEOs, two lawyers, a Stanford-educated engineer and a manager of more than $3 billion in pensions were among the women who applied for a seat on the Measure N Citizens' Oversight Committee.
None of them were selected.
In fact, of the roughly two dozen women out of the 82 total applicants, only one was selected for the nine-member board.
The committee will oversee how the city spends the additional $50 million it expects to bring in each year from the 1 percent sales tax increase that passed by less than 100 votes in November.
With such highly-qualified individuals, and with roughly 30 percent of the applicants being women, members of local women's organizations gathered outside City Hall Tuesday questioning how just one woman was selected to nine available committee seats.
They issued a letter to council members Tuesday morning demanding a revote.
"Our local leaders have failed to lead and ignored the need to elevate female voices," the letter states. "Instead, they largely voted at the behest of — or appeased — the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and selected eight men and a single female to serve on the Measure N Citizens' Oversight Committee.
"This is unacceptable."
The letter was written by Kimberly Kirchmer and Robin Walters, co-executive directors of Women's March Kern County.
That group, as well as Latina Leaders of Kern County, American Association of University Women Bakersfield, ShePower Leadership Academy and League of Women Voters of Kern County put their names to the letter.
"We do not contend that those appointed are not qualified," the letter states. "However, when faced with a choice among many qualified applicants, that choice must better reflect the community — which includes women."
The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce responded to the group's letter by noting that it nominated three women for the oversight committee in a letter it submitted in collaboration with local business and public safety groups.
"The implication that the coalition representing business and safety groups was 'appeased' in some way by only appointing one woman to the committee is inaccurate and a misrepresentation of the process and our slate of nominees," said Chamber President and CEO Nick Ortiz. "We recognize the desire for diversity on the committee, and that is why we tried to identify nominees that broadly represented ethnic, gender, geographical, and business sectors."
But frustration was apparent among those who stood outside City Hall during a sunny Tuesday afternoon, some carrying signs that said, "Women Unite" and "The Oceans Are Rising And So Are We."
Tracy Lopez, for one, is tired of women being an afterthought when it comes to the formation of committees overseeing things impacting the community as a whole.
"I was frustrated and sad," Lopez, a member of Women's March Kern County, said of her reaction upon learning of the committee makeup.
"We're taxpayers," she said. "We spend money. We're contributing to this tax."
Rachelle Carter, of Women's March Kern County and Democratic Women of Kern, said she hopes the lack of female representation is just an oversight by the board and not intentional. Regardless, she wants it corrected.
Those making the selections should know better, Carter said.
"I think not being aware in this day and age is inexcusable," she said.
Seven of the appointees were recommended by a group of business and public safety organizations led by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, leading to questions of whether the council had merely rubber-stamped the group's suggestions.
The city has said no seats were promised to any groups. Council members said they considered all 82 applicants equally.
Regardless of how it happened, Arleana Waller of ShePower said more women are needed on the committee to fairly represent the voices of women in the community.
She said the board needs to look beyond its friends and truly represent Bakersfield.
"You basically slapped women in our community in the face," she said of board.