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Senior Research Associate Jill Welch Gives Talk on Women and Public Policy to Society of Women Engineers
When the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) needed someone to engage its members about public policy, STEM fields, and more specifically, women in STEM fields, the organization turned to the Baker Center’s own Jill Welch.
SWE is housed in the Tickle College of Engineering, and its mission is to encourage women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, a field where the representation of women is lower.
Welch, a senior research associate at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, recently spoke to 35 SWE members, discussing research, data, analyses, and other findings focused on both women in general and in STEM.
When asked what advice she would give to these women and others pursuing careers in STEM, Welch said to seek out mentors within their field that are women. Being involved in women-centered organizations can provide them with support and connection to women peers and help them advocate for gender equality and public policies related to women.
“Pursue what you love and after you progress in your career, also become a mentor and promote inclusive opportunities and policies,” she added.
Welch received her Bachelor of Science in mathematics and industrial engineering from North Carolina State University. She worked as an engineer at Boeing before going to graduate school for her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her policy and research at the Baker Center covers the environment, education, equity, and economic development.
To fulfill SWE’s mission, SWE President Natalie Hester was pointed toward the Baker Center, and she was happy to find that the Center not only had someone who could speak to women and public policy but someone who had an engineering degree and engineering and public policy work experience.
“I believe our members found the talk refreshing, and I personally learned a lot of things from Dr. Welch’s talk,” Hester said. “The public policy talk was a refreshing topic that allowed our members to stop thinking about engineering for a few minutes.”
“It was very special to be able to present to the Society of Women Engineers,” Welch said. “I have been a woman in a room full of men, both within the school and work setting. It was neat to merge my previous experience with my current role as an economist together to talk about women and public policy, including women in STEM.”