Remember “become an engineer”?

20 Aug

A while back I wrote a short post about Emma Watson’s response to a fan, who asked her for career advice.

Emma Watson - become an engineerWell, she’s not the only one.

Last month, OneLogin designed and executed a recruiting campaign. They took pictures of four of their engineers wearing a tshirt with the company name and the word “engineering” underneath.

And misogyny, always abundant in these intrawebs, exploded. How could such a pretty young woman be an engineer? I mean, it’s not like she has the dangly bits that allow men to do math, right?

However, a young woman does not go through the misogyny gauntlet that is engineering school without growing some ovaries, developing flame resistant skin, and holding her own.

Isis Wenger, the engineer in question, went one better.

Isis Wenger #ILookLikeAnEngineer

She posted about her experiences as a woman in tech, and about the recruiting campaign, and the more than a little absurd reactions to it, and then she challenged people to participate in #ILookLikeAnEngineer:

I didn’t want or ask for any of this attention, but if I can use this to put a spotlight on gender issues in tech I consider that to be at least one win. The reality is that most people are well intentioned but genuinely blind to a lot of the crap that those who do not identify as male have to deal with. To list just a couple personal experiences:

  • I’ve had men throw dollar bills at me in a professional office(by an employee who works at that company, during work hours).
  • I’ve had an engineer on salary at a bootcamp message me to explicitly “be friends with benefits” while I was in the interview process at the school he worked for.

I would like to add that both men responsible for these unfavorable experiences are not bad people. They are both socially-accepted, “smart” and “normal” guys. This illustrates one of the industry’s deep underlying issues. There is a significant lack of empathy and insight towards recognizing that their “playful/harmless” behavior is responsible for making others inappropriately uncomfortable. This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold. I’m sure that every other woman and non-male identifying person in this field has a long list of mild to extreme personal offenses that they’ve just had to tolerate. I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble, fired or ruin anyone’s life. I just want to make it clear that we are all humans, and there are certain patterns of behavior that no one should have to tolerate while in a professional environment.

Do you feel passionately about helping spread awareness and increase tech diversity?

Do you not fit the “cookie-cutter mold” of what people believe engineers “should look like?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions I invite you to help spread the word and help us redefine “what an engineer should look like”.

Mashable, the Guardian, the Washington Post, and other press got wind of this and wrote it up. By August 13th, enough engineers had joined the hashtag, that they hosted a gathering in San Francisco.

Whomever you are, if this is what you want, “become an engineer.”


And if you want to help smooth the path for those who are not white or male, yet want to become engineers? You can contribute to the fundraising campaign in IndieGoGo, to put a billboard up, and show people beyond twitter, what engineers look like.


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