Over the last couple days we all heard about this accidental “movement for women” in the tech industry, as described by Kathryn Varn in the New York Times and picked up by news outlets nationally (I caught her piece in my local Seattle Times’ “Shattering gender stereotypes is tech industry hashtag’s aim” on August 8, 2015).
From the article, we understand that Isis Wenger was featured in an ad for One-Login, where she works as an engineer, in order to help recruit employees. Mainly because people generally felt she doesn’t fit the stereotype of an engineer (she is very pretty — is that the main reason?), the ad drew attention. Her post on Medium included a call to action for others who wanted to share their stories about diversity issues in technology to use the hashtag #ILookLikeanEngineer. Already, tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands by now) have done so.
The NY Times article also described the efforts of Tracy Chou, a software engineer at Pinterest. She has been tracking the number of female software engineers at more than 200 companies. Unfortunately, over the past year, “little progress had been made” at Facebook and Amazon in diversity reports. Chou identified two problems: the education pipeline, and the retention of female engineers.
Isis Wenger is similarly expressing a hopefulness that the recent hashtag activity will encourage women to become engineers. She is focusing her energy on “what I can do to help things improve.”
In her well-written Medium article, she is smart, funny
“In fact, if you knew me you would probably know that being famous is one of my biggest nightmares; seriously right up there with falling into a porta potty.”,
and forthright about the experiences of being female in the tech industry
“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.”,
without being harsh.
She says, “I just want to make it clear that we are all humans, and there are certain patterns of behavior that no one should have to tolerate while in a professional environment.”
And, “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.”
She asks: “I invite you to help spread the word and help us redefine “what an engineer should look like””, see the article for specifics, and info about an upcoming gathering in San Francisco.