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Pantić Participates in MIT Panel Discussion on Title IX in STEM

December 6, 2017

President Zorica Pantić, Paula Hammond, Andrew Campbell, and Anita Hill

President Zorica Pantić, Paula Hammond, Andrew Campbell, and Anita Hill

Wentworth President Zorica Pantić recently joined Andrew Campbell, dean of Graduate Studies at Brown University, and Paula Hammond, chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for a panel discussion titled, “Fulfilling the Promise of Title IX in STEM: Exploring the Roles University Leaders Play.”

The talk, held on November 15 on the MIT campus, was the third and final panel discussion in a series called “The Gender/Race Imperative,” led by MIT visiting professor Anita Hill. The panel explored how Title IX can empower universities in addressing both gender and race issues.

Hill, who teaches at Brandeis University, called out sexual harassment and discrimination in her testimony in the 1991 confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Pantić stressed that engaging more women and minorities in the STEM workforce is key to preserving the United State’s competitiveness in the 21st-century knowledge-based global economy. She also reflected on the fact that the wage gap between women and men is much smaller in STEM occupations. In STEM fields, women earn 92 cents for every dollar earned by men, compared to 77 cents per dollar overall. Women hold fewer than 25 percent of STEM jobs, although they comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce. 

Since her arrival at Wentworth in 2005, Pantić has worked on attracting and supporting female and minority students, and has made that effort one of the main initiatives in the Institute's strategic plan. Wentworth supports female and minority student access and success in a variety of ways including, scholarships, a transition-to-college program, mentoring, and advising. 

The university’s annual Women at Wentworth event celebrates students, alumni, and career professionals, while the yearly Girl Scouts STEM program helps expand the pipeline.

“It is very important to generate interest in STEM early on,” Pantić said.

Wentworth has 20 percent female students, but 50 percent of student leadership positions are filled by women, and 85 percent of the winners of the Wentworth Bowl—the highest recognition for academic and leadership excellence—are women. Pantić recognizes that role models are very important, and Wentworth has focused on increasing the number of full-time female faculty from 25 percent to 35 percent during her tenure.

Campbell cited national statistics stating that women of color make up 15 percent of the population, but only 3 percent of the STEM workforce.

“It’s hard to talk about gender without talking about race,” he said.

Campbell indicated that research has shown that employers are predisposed to hiring and training males. And hiring factors like competence, ability, aptitude and qualifications often fall behind things like an applicant’s race and gender- intentionally or not.

Hammond focused her remarks on MIT’s “Report on the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity,” which states that, “Creating a culture of inclusion is not an optional exercise; it is the indispensable precondition that enables us to capitalize on our diverse skills, perspectives and experiences.”

The full panel discussion is available here, https://vimeo.com/243866442

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