Women are challenging stereotypes within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries, using the hashtag #ilooklikeanengineer.
The campaign was created after a recruitment advert featuring a woman engineer went viral. The advert received a torrent of sexist comments towards the woman pictured.
Isis Wenger, a self-taught, software engineer residing in San Francisco, was asked alongside four others to participate in a recruitment campaign. The advert was initially put up around the city’s subway stations, but it soon became a target on social media.
Many commenters argued that this was not an accurate representation of what engineers looked like. In her blog, Wenger writes, “some people think I’m not making ‘the right face’. Other think that this is unbelievable as to what ‘female engineers look like’.”
Wenger also describes the abuse that she has faced within the industry including men throwing money at her in a professional environment.
This latest gender stereotyping comes as the Forbes 100 Richest in Tech list only features seven women and as companies and government bodies are trying to encourage more women into STEM careers.
However, women across the globe are using social media to fight back against gender stereotypes within the industry. Wenger has since launched a website where people can share their stories and support each other in a collective way. A crowdfunding campaign has also been introduced to raise money to install an #ilooklikeanengineer billboard and has so far raised nearly double its original target. A networking event in San Francisco has been arranged by Wenger.
Wenger, a self-confessed introvert, says, “I didn’t want or ask for any of this attention, but if I can use this to put a spotlight on gender issues in tech I consider that to be at least one win.”
Wenger goes on to write, “I kind of fell backwards into all of this, but I really want to do everything I can to use the position that I am in to help make a positive impact.”