Thousands of female engineers have taken to Twitter to dispel the myth that all engineers are men.
Posting under the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer, women working in science, technology, engineering and associated subjects have been posting selfies of themselves and describing what they do.
The campaign was spurred by an advert to recruit new developers for OneLogin a security company in San Francisco, which used a photo of Isis Wenger one of its female platform engineers.
Wenger took to Medium and Twitter, signing up for an account on 3 August, to post a picture of herself with the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag and within a day it had gone viral and far beyond the advert that spawned it.
Engineers took to Twitter and other social platforms posting similar pictures of themselves, forcing #iLookLikeAnEngineer into Twitter’s trending list. A website was set up to support the new campaign and an app for creating and sharing their photos on social media was created.
The campaign also attracted misogynist comments directed at Wenger’s appearance and doubting her credibility as an engineer. But the outpouring of support came from all over the globe, including within Silicon Valley.
Intel’s Women at Intel Network began supporting the campaign, as did various other women in technology groups, universities, software and engineering companies.
Others who also felt they didn’t fall into the “cookie cutter” mould of what an engineer should be joined in, posting photos of themselves and moving the campaign beyond just sexism and in the direction of greater diversity across the technology, science and engineering industries.
The outpouring of posts illustrate the diversity issues currently facing workers and companies within the technology, science and engineering industries.
At Google, for instance, only 30% of its entire workforce is female and only 18% women in its technology divisions, according to its diversity data from January.
Facebook has a 32% female workforce, but only 16% of its female employees are involved in technology related jobs. Other large Silicon Valley companies have similar statistics as do engineering firms and science institutions.
Without asking for it, Wenger has been thrust into the spotlight in what she describes as a “hastily planned and executed” campaign. But she and the others who have taken up the charge hope that they can change the assumed sexist appearance of engineers.
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