President Stresses Wentworth’s Commitment to Careers for Women

November 13, 2014

President Zorica Pantic speaks with attendees of the MBC "Making Connections" event

President Zorica Pantic speaks with attendees of the MBC "Making Connections" event

By Dennis Nealon

Wentworth President Zorica Pantić recently told students and construction industry leaders that the school is more determined than ever to help young women launch careers in engineering and related fields that remain heavily dominated by men.

But Pantić and other speakers at a Nov. 12 campus forum also stressed that young women have to push themselves, as well, and take full advantage of networking and leadership opportunities early and often in their careers.

The “Making Connections” event was organized by the Massachusetts Building Congress (MBC) Women’s Network. Three of six participants in a featured panel discussion graduated from Wentworth. Each advised young women hoping to break into science and technology careers to expect indifference, if not outright resistance, from men working in the students’ targeted professions.

“We try to provide the best possible education in the best possible environment,” said Pantić. “And our students always come first.”

Pantić, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, spoke of some of the professional challenges she has faced in the United States, such as growing accustomed to colloquialisms and uniquely American phrases in her career, even after studying English in her native country for 10 years.

“They say in real estate that it’s ‘location, location, location,’” said Pantić. “In your careers, it’s ‘network, network, network.’”

Pantić, Wentworth’s first female president and the first female engineer to lead a higher education institution of technology in the United States, urged the young women among the crowd of 130 at the forum—including students and recent graduates from Wentworth and other Boston area schools—to get active in professional societies. “You never know when an opportunity is going to come.”

“Thick skin is very, very important,” said Lizett Frias, BT ’88, executive director of marketing and business development for S&F Concrete Contractors. “You are always going to find discrimination, and they (men) will test you on a constant basis.”

“I was always the one being asked to get the coffee, and to bring toilet paper to the job site,” said Rose Conti, ABC ’09, BCM ’12, director of interiors/special projects for Lee Kennedy Co., which employs some 30 Wentworth graduates.

“You need to be open-minded,” said Conti. “You need to have character and integrity. And you need to own responsibility.”

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