Close your eyes and imagine what an engineer looks like. What do you see? Bay Area-based OneLogin recently ran an ad campaign featuring its own engineer Isis Wenger in order to highlight the growing number of women in the tech space and show off the company's workplace diversity. And unfortunately, Wenger was not who male online commenters had in mind when they thought of the word "engineer." Wenger took to Twitter to address the issue that these commenters raised — the fact that a woman is being presented as the face of this company's engineering team. Using the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, Wenger showed that yes, she is an engineer, and this is what she looks like.
What followed has been an influx of tweets from other women taking ownership of their places in the engineering world. "I've heard lots of stories from lots of women who have experienced challenges in their day-to-day job as an engineer," says Colleen Layman, president of the Society of Women Engineers, an organization seeking to promote the success and visibility of women in engineering. It's an unfortunately common experience for female engineers to encounter discrimination "because they don't look like what that stereotypical role of engineer looks like," Layman says. Overwhelmingly, male engineers remain the norm. That is why it is so important to see #ILookLikeAnEngineer pick up the speed that is has since Wenger's initial tweet. The more women take to Twitter, the more this norm and stereotype can be dismantled. As Layman puts it: "The more we talk about it, the more people [will] have a different impression in their minds" of what they think of when they think of an engineer. Check out a few of the tweets below, and find the latest ones here.
"We can change our actions by first changing our thoughts," Wenger told Refinery29 via email following the popularity of #ILookLikeAnEngineer. "I'm hoping this campaign will help increase empathy and sensitivity towards every flavor of diversity in science and engineering."