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Residents, students hear Shimer talk about women in S.T.E.M.

Skaneateles eighth grader Emily Norris, right, talks with Dr. Julie Shimer, CEO of Welch Allyn, about women in STEM careers after Shimer's talk at the AAUW meeting on Oct. 28.

Skaneateles eighth grader Emily Norris, right, talks with Dr. Julie Shimer, CEO of Welch Allyn, about women in STEM careers after Shimer's talk at the AAUW meeting on Oct. 28. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— The number of women who work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields in the U.S. is discouragingly low, and yet the jobs and opportunities in the fields abound, the salaries are high and there is a typically smaller gender pay gap, said Dr. Julie Shimer, CEO of Welch Allyn, speaking at a recent meeting of the Skaneateles area branch of the American Association of University Women.

“One of my passions is to encourage women to dream big dreams themselves and work to achieve them,” Shimer told the audience of more than 50 women, including 11 students, grades 8 and higher, from the Skaneateles district.

In her talk, “Women in STEM: A Personal Perspective,” Shimer explained her personal background, education and job experiences as an engineer, and then went through a number of demographics of women in STEM careers as a way to expose and encourage audience members to take a serious look at working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

Shimer’s passion for engineering began as a child when she discovered and read a series of books by General Electric written to encourage young children to enter engineering fields. Unfortunately, her school years being in the 1950s and 1960s, she ran into many obstacles along the way.

“I can’t tell you how many times teachers told me: women don’t go into engineering,” Shimer said, which, she added, only increased her determination to succeed in her chosen field.

After achieving her bachelor’s degree in physics and her master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering, Shimer worked for a time in electronics research before transitioning into the business side of her field. She worked in leadership positions at major companies such as AT&T, Motorola and Bethlehem Steel, ultimately becoming the first female CEO of Welch Allyn in 2007.

“I’ve had a diverse and rewarding career, and my engineering education has served me well,” Shimer said. “I often wonder why more women are not in STEM-related jobs.”

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