Women in the tech industry have been joining a Twitter movement that seeks to deconstruct the stereotypes of the sector being male-dominated. By posting photos of themselves on Twitter using the hashtag #Ilooklikeanengineer, women are showing that tech is not exclusively populated by white or Asian men.
Now the project is on Indiegogo in an effort to fund the installation of an #Ilooklikeanengineer billboard. The initial $3,500 funding goal was quickly surpassed with $8,550 being funded in just one day. So far, the project has raised over $15,302 in just 7 days by 237 individual supporters.
If the Indiegogo campaign raises enough money, Anchelee and the rest of the organizers will be able to put up multiple billboard ads. The campaign’s mission as stated on the crowdsourcing website is to defy the limiting and derogatory pigeonholing in the tech industry:
“Help us show that there’s more than one way to look like an engineer.”
Isis Anchalee is one of the engineers organizing the campaign. She claims to have been previously called out for not fitting into the stereotypical mold of the average engineer. Isis wrote on Medium that when she appeared on a recruiting ad for her employer, OneLogin, many people doubted that she was an engineer as she was neither a white nor an Asian male.
She says this type of incidents are:
“[S]olid examples of the sexism that plagues tech.” She added: “The reality is that most people are well intentioned but genuinely blind to a lot of the [expletive] that those who do not identify as male have to deal with.”
“This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold,” Anchalee wrote on Medium.
According to analytics firm Topsy, the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag was mentioned more than 80,600 times on Twitter, the LA Times reported. Women and men of all sorts of nationalities, looks, sexual orientations and genders joined the project on Twitter as it resonated with how they’re being treated at their own workplaces.
The city of Austin, Texas joined the #Ilooklikeanengineer movement on Twitter, too, by putting the spotlight on some of its young female engineers who work at the Austin Traffic Management Center. Among these young engineers is recent University of Texas graduate Nazlie Saeedi.
The young woman said: “We look out for things like accidents or road closures, things like that, so that we can adjust the signals accordingly. When I went to college, I mean it was just like three girls in a room of 100 guys. I always felt so proud to be, you know, competing with them in a field that is male dominated.”