What does an engineer look like? Women 'techies' weigh in
The viral #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign launched by a 22-year-old engineer is busting stereotypes in the tech world.
After a 22-year-old San Franciscan named Isis Anchalee inadvertently launched a viral campaign with the hashtag #Ilooklikeanengineer, it got us wondering: In 2015, should we still be surprised – or, dare we say it, skeptical – when a young woman is an engineer?
Anchalee, who posed for the above ad in a campaign for her company, OneLogin, didn't expect the flood of attention – both positive and negative – she received. Some commenters called her "brave"; others likened the ad to a shameless publicity stunt. But gradually, something amazing began to take shape. Female engineers around the world – from the United States and Britain to Greece and Israel, and pretty much everywhere in between – showed their support for Anchalee's push to end stereotyping in engineering by posting photos and descriptions of themselves along with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer.
In response to the feedback, Anchalee wrote a blog post for Medium. "At the end of the day, this is just an ad campaign and it is targeted at engineers," she wrote. "... this isn’t by any means an attempt to label 'what female engineers look like.' This is literally just ME, an example of ONE engineer at OneLogin."
But, Anchalee said, it's an important conversation that she's glad to have ignited, because she knows she's not alone. Tamar Bercovici, a software engineering manager at Silicon Valley startup Box, wrote in a blog post for VentureBeat that she's encountered comments from colleagues that seemed to marginalize her accomplishments and doubt her worth as an employee.
"On my first review at Box, I got a peer comment about not writing enough lines of code," wrote the Israeli-born graduate of the Technion, Israel's version of MIT. "My manager and I knew that this didn’t hold weight. So why the comment? Was it because I’m a woman? Because I had a Ph.D? Because I was new? Perhaps it was all of these things. Personally, I don’t think it matters.
"... I wasn’t a staff engineer or even an engineering manager," she continued. "I was the newest person on the team. So I worked hard. I was enthusiastic. I learned a lot. I brought value. Bias is surmountable. You own that."
Meanwhile, the #ILookLikeanEngineer hashtag is still spreading far and wide, even catching the attention of former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.
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