Founded in 1919, the mission of Zonta International is to be a “leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.” Mizzou Engineering alumna, Sharon Langenbeck, embodies that mission as she takes on her role as the president of Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation for the next two years.
One of the major focus areas for Langenbeck will be closing the gender gap in education. Langenbeck is the perfect president to lead this initiative as she has always seen the importance of education.
“For me, education is really everything,” Langenbeck said, “The education you get when you’re growing up is the basis for decision making of the future.”
Langenbeck earned her bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from the University of Missouri. She was one of 13 women in all of the College of Engineering and the only female in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department when she began her undergraduate studies. During her career, she worked at the Lockheed-California Company and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she held line and project management positions.
Langenbeck’s first connection with Zonta was when she was awarded the Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship, and she will be the first Amelia Earhart Fellow to serve as Zonta’s president.
Trailblazers like Langenbeck opened the doors for the next generation of female engineers and she will continue these strides through her work with Zonta. “The trailblazers have set the stage and opened the doors for future generations. But now those trailblazers need to be the mentors for the next generation as well,” Langenbeck said.