Patricia Ann (Pritchard) Bianchi (B’63) on Paving the Way for Women Pursuing Business Education
Patricia Bianchi was one of the first 10 graduates of the business school. Like many of the early women, she commuted to campus. After graduation, Bianchi worked as a contractor for NASA on the Apollo project and then rose through the ranks of the federal government, retiring from the Food and Drug Administration after 36 years of government service. She spent almost two decades working on a joint project with her husband (a band director) to recruit, train, and take student musicians from Virginia on performance tours of Europe. Her grandson is a member of Georgetown’s College of Arts & Sciences class of 2023.
What brought you to Georgetown?
I attended Anacostia High School during the early years of segregation. I took one of the earliest College Board tests and was accepted to George Washington University, but I was not happy there, so my mom encouraged me to apply to Georgetown. I thought Georgetown was an all boys school, so I had not applied before. However, my mom was persistent. I contacted the school, I talked to someone in the business school, and I actually was accepted as a transfer student.
What was the classroom environment like?
There was only one other woman — Dale Evans (B’63). At first, the male business students were clannish and were not particularly welcoming to Dale and me. Many of my friends were in the School of Foreign Service, and we shared many classes together where there was much less disparity between the number of men and women.
Did you ever experience any career obstacles, gender-related or otherwise?
Over the years, I think I was passed over for some opportunities, and these jobs were given to men with fewer qualifications. However, I had a full life at home raising my son, Jim, and helping my husband with his various business pursuits.
Did Georgetown prepare you well for your career?
Georgetown taught me to think logically, to have a good work ethic, to understand accounting, economics, and statistics, and lastly to respect and work well with others.
How did you maintain a balance between your professional and personal lives?
At the time, it did not seem so hard, but of course, it was. I was lucky to have a supportive mom and dad to help me when my son was in school. For example, through middle school and early high school, my mom would pick up Jim at St. Albans School, take him to her house across town, and have him back at my house when I got home from work. That does not happen much anymore.
Looking back over your time at Georgetown and your career, what advice would you give your younger self?
This is weird, but my first reunion was my 25th, and then I went intermittently culminating in my 50th. I was on the committee for this last one, and it was amazing. I would tell my younger self to keep in touch with old friends and stay connected to Georgetown.
How would you define success?
Success is to never stop learning, to never stop interacting with your friends and family, to never stop fighting for what’s right, to never stop giving back to your community, and to never stop being grateful for life’s many blessings.
This story was originally featured in 60 Years of Alumnae: Memories, Milestones, & Momentum. In honor of Women’s History Month, purchase your copy for 50% off throughout the month of March.