First it was #GirlsWithToys, then #DistractinglySexy. Now #ILookLikeAnEngineer has become the latest hashtag that women in science are using to fight sexism and challenge perceptions of what people in the field should look like.
This campaign started when Isis Anchale, a 22-year-old engineer at the identity management firm OneLogin, agreed to participate in a recruiting ad for her company, which ended up in San Francisco’s subway system.
The poster received lots of sexist comments based on Anchale’s attractive appearance. “I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes,” wrote one Facebook commenter. “Perhaps that’s the intention all along. But I’m curious people with brains find this quote remotely plausible and if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like.”
Anchale responded in a Medium essay on Aug. 1 in which she told of other experiences she had suffered as a woman tech, which included having men throwing dollar bills at her and having a colleague ask her to be “friends with benefits” during an interview process.
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 women 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.
In her post, Anchalee asked other female engineers to stand by her via Twitter, and help her showcase what real women in tech look like. The response has been overwhelming:
The gang from the International Space Station made an impressive showing:
Some men, among them astronaut Scott Kelly and Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO, also joined the chorus.