First female engineer graces the cover of WIRED magazine

Picture of cover of WIRED magazine, with woman holding power tool in a "Rosie the Riveter" style

This image has been getting attention, as Limor “Ladyada” Fried, the woman pictured, is the first woman engineer to grace the cover of WIRED Magazine. WIRED is a key publication in the tech world.

She’s posing in the now iconic “Rosie the Riveter” pose, arm out, sleeve up, bicep exposed in the “Yes We Can” poster style. It’s a great image, but I have to be honest and say that I’m tired of it. It feels so flat that that’s the only way we can represent women working in a man’s field. Limor’s field, engineering, is definitely a man’s world.

This chart from the US Department of Labor shows just how big the gender gap in engineering is:

Chart of the number of people in engineering based on sex. Men have thousands more positions than women. It's increased over time, but not much.

The pink is men in engineering, the blue is women. I’m sure the numbers have gotten better in the last ten years (this chart only goes until 2001) but women have not made up that huge gap.

I’m glad they’ve featured her here, and I’m glad that she’s not scantily clad like most of the women who grace the covers of national magazines. But when will we get beyond the idea of Rosie the Riveter? When can women across fields just be acknowledged the way their male counterparts are–for their accomplishments? Fried seems like a pretty amazing (and nerdy) engineer. Even her website homepage is set up like a circuit. Posing her like Rosie feels antiquated, and also draws attention only to the fact that she’s a woman in a man’s world–not that she’s an incredible engineer in her own rite.

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