Women across the tech industry took to Twitter early this week, posting photos of themselves with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. Now they hope to take their stereotype-defying mantra to a crowdfunded billboard overlooking San Francisco.
The project raised $8,550 in one day on Indiegogo, surpassing the $3,500 needed for one billboard. For one of the organizers, software engineer Isis Anchalee, the sign would spread her resolve to redefine what “an engineer looks like” after she was called out for not fitting a stereotypical mold.
As she wrote in a personal essay posted to Medium last week, some people questioned whether she was an engineer after she appeared in a recruiting ad for her employer, software company OneLogin, because she was not a white or Asian male.
“This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold,” Anchalee wrote.
That sentiment has resonated widely among women as well as men, who have also posted photos labeled #ILookLikeAnEngineer. The hashtag has been mentioned more than 80,600 times on Twitter in the last week, according to analytics firm Topsy.
Anachlee’s friend Michelle Glauser, a Web developer, pushed the billboard project, posting a photo collage online with a couple dozen images representing the diverse appearances of women and men in tech.
She and Anachlee will host an event next Thursday in San Francisco to bring together supporters.
Calling for guests on the event’s Eventbrite page, Glauser wrote:
“Do you not fit the ‘cookie-cutter mold’ of what people believe engineers ‘should look like’? Are you part of these underrepresented groups in tech: women, PoC, LGBT, non-white-or-asian-straight-cis-males?”
If Anachlee’s supporters raise enough funding, they hope to put up multiple billboards.