Podcast: From Serbia to U.S. Academia, NYU Tandon’s First Female Dean

In her new role at Tandon, Jelena Kovačević is committed to getting more women interested in technology. Tandon's freshman class has more than double the national average of women in engineering, but Jelena wants that number to grow.
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Episode 68: From Serbia to U.S. Academia, NYU Tandon’s First Female Dean Jelena Kovačević

professional headshot of NYU Tandon's Dean of Engineering, Jelena Kovačević, with cityscape in background
Dean Jelena Kovačević

In this Diverse podcast episode, FY19 SWE President Penny Wirsing speaks with Jelena Kovačević, the first female dean at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. Raised in Serbia in the city of Belgrade, Jelena earned an electrical engineering degree from the University of Belgrade before moving to New York City to attend Columbia University. She credits her upbringing in Belgrade, math games involving Serbian crepes, amazing primary school education, and family encouragement as the motivation for pursuing STEM. In her new role at Tandon, she is committed to getting more women interested in technology. Tandon’s freshman class has more than double the national average of women in engineering, but Jelena wants that number to grow.

“When I think about it, I really do consider myself extremely lucky. I don’t really think I faced significant obstacles because, again, I compare it to what real obstacles may be. I was sort of immunized early on and that’s where I think the power of parents and early education is so important because it can protect you—for years to come. That’s really important. I think it’s more important to think about how to put safeguards in the system … so that whatever obstacles there may be, we can help our students navigate and fight them.”

– Jelena Kovačević, Dean of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering