#ILookLikeAnEngineer Secures Billboard Funding

Last week, Isis Wenger wrote about her experience with sexism as a woman tech engineer, particularly the backlash she encountered as the literal face of her company. Thousands of engineers from underrepresented backgrounds were inspired to share their stories with #ILookLikeAnEngineer, and soon, they’ll be on a billboard near you.

In Silicon Valley, major highways and transit centers in the area are filled with tech related ads, sometimes in regards to products, but also in regards to recruiting. For example, a prominent ad series include images like this:

Crappy Ad

Is he Leaning-In or Leaning-Out?


The whole premise of this ad series “Find the hottest tech talent” is that engineers are goofy-looking nerdy guys (majority white) that look ridiculous when they pose as overtly-sexualized women in mainstream advertising culture. According to the “joke,” “hottest” refers to their abilities as engineers, not their identity.

Did Dice run this ad with a woman or trans engineer in a similar position? Nope! And let’s not pretend that it was to prevent folks from even more objectification. Dice fully played into the stereotype that only men are elite tech talent. They literally spread this message all across Silicon Valley, from MUNI along the 101.

Meanwhile, Isis Wenger’s company featured her in an ad series where she encouraged folks to work with her team because of their intelligence, community, and passion. As she noted in her Medium post, people began debating her qualifications and claims because she had a “sexy smirk” rather than a “friendly smile.”

Annoyed and determined to make some change, Isis has called upon all folks who do not “fit the ‘cookie-cutter-mold’ of what engineers ‘should look like'” to voice their experiences on social media and beyond. Their stories expressed the routine ignorance and B.S. bad-ass engineers face while they create awesome products and solve tricky problems. After a groundswell of affirmation and appreciative response, #ILookLikeAnEngineer continues its momentum with a soon-to-be launched website and community meet-ups this week.

As we’ve covered before, increasing the diversity in tech is important to feminism. For one, an increase in familiarity with feminism can definitely improve the work environments of folks who work there (especially beyond ‘Leaning In’). But also, products that are essential to modern-day feminism like Twitter and Facebook are created by people who have their own biases and experiences. For example, perhaps the reason why social media tools are still kinda crappy about preventing online sexual harassment might be because their creators might not be directly familiar with that type of discrimination.

As for me, I am extremely excited for #ILookLikeAnEngineer to expand in the upcoming weeks. It has been really inspiring to follow the stories of friends and strangers who make really cool things. In fact, I’ve been inspired to take up coding again. Who’s with me y’all?

San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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