SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- OneLogin Inc. full-stack engineer Isis Wenger wrote a blog post about being a female engineer in a male-dominated world on Aug. 1, and it has gone viral.
Wenger (Twitter handle @IsisAnchalee) was part of a hastily executed recruiting effort by her company, which allows enterprises to consolidate access into their servers with a single login for business applications. The campaign produced an advertisement which features her smiling next to text, reading, "My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious."
The response to a picture of the ad on Facebook involved comments including "I'm curious ... if women in particular buy the image of what a female software engineer looks like" and "if their intention is to attract more women then it would have been better to choose a picture with a warm, friendly smile rather than a sexy smirk." Wenger felt uncomfortable with the attention the ad generated. She decided to start #iLookLikeAnEngineer after linking to her original blog post on Twitter, which then sparked many replies with pictures from female engineers in widely different industries.
Former model Michelle Easter wrote: "I was published in the Journal of Applied Physics, Applied Physics Letters, Teen Vogue & Cosmopolitan and #ILookLikeAnEngineer." Holland engineer Nadia van Axel wrote, "#ILookLikeAnEngineer. I work with databases and sometimes I go out and dance."
Wenger said a website for the hashtag is now under construction. Interested users may sign up with their full name and email in order to be updated on the site's launch.
The hashtag has sparked more than 36,000 tweets and another website that aggregates Instagram and Twitter posts that include it. It also inspired a T-shirt design whose sales will be partially donated to a charity of Wenger's choosing.
Emily Calandrelli, MIT alumna and host and producer of FOX show Xploration, has dealt with a professional experience that mirrors Wenger's campaign. As one of only two women in a science class at West Virginia University, Calandrelli felt that she and her classmate stood out. When she meets new people and is told that she doesn't look like she went to MIT, she understands that it's said as a compliment but is ultimately offended by it. Calandrelli feels that being interested in science and engineering is not a male quality.
Wenger told The Washington Post she believes the viral nature of her campaign is due to her message being the message of many others. She added that as a self-taught website builder who explored the source code of the Neopets website at age 8, she endured much condescension from others with low expectations of her. Furthermore, she explains how two work scenarios involving men throwing dollar bills at her or soliciting a friends with benefits relationship is expected to be the kind of behavior women should simply tolerate.