Women in the Tech World: Challenging Stereotypes

Written by 5ivecanons Staff

The hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer caused quite the stir on Twitter this week.

It started when a San Francisco tech firm ran a recruitment ad campaign that featured a photo of Isis Wenger, one of the company’s platform engineers. What happened next was a backlash of internet critics crying foul — claiming that she was too pretty, too sexy, and “clearly a stock photo”. Some claimed it was false advertising, and that the ad was attempting to attract the attention of a male audience.

The company, which was completely surprised by the response, said that none of it was planned — and that they used her in the campaign simply because she happened to be available on the day of the office photoshoot. The campaign included two other ads — both featuring male employees — but neither caused a tweetstorm. Isis spoke out about it on her personal blog, and included a selfie (for the internet doubters) along with the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag.

Isis-wenger #ilooklikeanengineerThe question that people are asking now: why was it so unbelievable that a young, attractive female could be an engineer? Is this not 2015, an age when women and men are equal in the workplace?

Fortunately many women, myself included, are in work environments where gender isn’t a factor. But what about the platform engineers of the world, such as Isis? Many saw her as just another stock photo; a pretty face on an ad that was blatantly vying for male attention.

The reality is that female developers, gamers, art directors, engineers, writers, etc. aren’t all just nerdy women lacking social skills. Even in 2015, we need to reiterate these facts. Yes, women can do any job that a man does.

The #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag has taken off and expanded as women at NASA, MIT, General Motors, and fellow engineering grads take to their keyboards to tell the world that they are more than just pretty faces. It’s a statement so obvious that it seems silly / trivial. But unfortunately, it still needs to be said.

Read the hashtags and let us know what you think. Do you still see gender stereotyping in your field of work?