#Ilooklikeanengineer challenges established gender constructs

4 Aug 2015

Billboard image via Isis Wenger/Medium

Once again, the gender constructs that have existed for decades, particularly when it comes to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are being challenged on Twitter, this time through #Ilooklikeanengineer.

The trending of #Ilooklikeanengineer on Twitter began following the posting of an advert for identity management company OneLogin where one of the software engineers, Isis Wenger, was asked to take part in a campaign promoting the company.

Following the publication of the billboard advert, it began to garner a lot of attention online, particularly from men, who challenged the notion that Isis was indeed a software engineer and not a paid-for model.

What resulted was not only a heated discussion challenging what it means to look like an engineer, but Isis herself took to Medium to explain her involvement in the advert and how she finds her experiences being a female engineer.

What is an engineer supposed to look like?

“The reality is that most people are well-intentioned but genuinely blind to a lot of the crap that those who do not identify as male have to deal with,” Wenger said in her post before giving examples where one male employee threw dollar bills at her while also detailing being sexually harassed by email by another engineer.

“Some people think I’m not making ‘the right face’,” Wenger continued in her post. “Others think that this is unbelievable as to what ‘female engineers look like’.

“News flash: this isn’t by any means an attempt to label ‘what female engineers look like’. This is literally just ME, an example of ONE engineer at OneLogin. The ad is supposed to be authentic. My words, my face, and as far as I am concerned it is.”

Regardless, her experiences have continued to fuel debate, particularly on Twitter with #Ilooklikeanengineer.

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Eircom, Fidelity Investments, ESB, Accenture and CoderDojo.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic