Women’s History Month CWIT Spotlight: Ebony Tongo

March is Women’s History Month!
Last year’s Women’s History Month’s national theme was Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored last year’s theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields.
Since last year’s spotlights were so meaningful and successful in highlighting the important work of women in STEM fields, we’re back at it for year two. This year’s national theme is Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment. Though there is no specific mention of STEM, it is impossible to deny that acts of courage and commitment from women (and their allies) in STEM occur everyday. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 2nd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.
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Ebony Tongo, Chemical Engineering Major
President of UMBC’s Society of Women Engineers
Describe what sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.
What primarily sparked my interest was the fact that I was always told that I couldn’t do it. Being continuously told that engineering was for men made me want to do it even more. I guess I like a good challenge! I chose chemical engineering because I realized just how diverse the job prospects were after graduation; from cosmetics to consumer goods to refineries it seemed like there was nothing they couldn’t do!
Tell us about an internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.
An internship I am really proud of was the one I did last year at the L’Oreal Research and Innovation campus in New Jersey. It was my dream to work for a cosmetic company and acquiring the internship alone was something to be proud of. I really liked that my project had a direct impact on the company, my findings would actually be used in their formulations. It was really cool.
Who are your role models in the engineering or IT field?
My role models tend to shift every now and then, I think women who are able to balance a strong work life and home life are the ones that really inspire me. They are the ones I often ask “how do you do it?”. Every time, its a slightly different answer but one thing still remains the same – hard work!
In your experience, how has being a woman in engineering or IT demanded character, courage or commitment?
There are definitely some moments that stick out to you more than others. You constantly wonder why your opinion is being disregarded first hand or why you need to speak louder to get your point across. It’s an ongoing battle but it takes a lot of character, keeping professional and realizing that you have to gain the respect of people and not just expect it to be handed to you. If you do good quality work, people will notice and you won’t need to speak up so loudly any more.
The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.
Learn more about the CWIT community at http://www.cwit.umbc.edu/
For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit:http://my.umbc.edu/groups/womenscenter/news/41639

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