Why We Need the #ILookLikeAnEngineer Movement
Higher Education The idea of giving a human face to the struggles surrounding diversity in tech has struck a much larger chord than anyone could have imagined.
The call for increased diversity in tech has been covered by almost every newspaper and addressed by almost every major tech company, but until now those discussions have been largely conceptual. That all changed this month, with one tweet from software engineer Isis Anchalee. She published a photo of herself holding a handwritten sign which read: “I help build enterprise software #ILookLikeAnEngineer”.
Personifying the issue
The often lofty discussions about how to bring more people of color, women, and other underrepresented groups into technical careers was no longer about how to get more of ‘them’ to come to ‘us,’ but to celebrate how many of us are already here and to welcome more in with smiling faces.
"If you’re an engineer in any field, don’t worry; you’re already exactly what an engineer should look like."
Suddenly, ‘they’ weren’t some other group anymore; they were real engineers and real people of all kinds, and their faces looked just like ours. And what many of those faces shared was what it’s like to be left out, or feel like the only one of your kind—and that’s an experience almost everyone has had, regardless of race, gender, or occupation.
A more personal touch
As someone concurrently working in the worlds of both NoSQL databases and startups, I’m frequently the only woman in the room. But in the larger picture, I know I’m not alone. This feeling of togetherness and community has been the resounding outcome of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign, and has brought together technical people from all walks of life to share and showcase their STEM careers.
As of today, on Twitter alone, over 166,000 engineers have used the hashtag to tweet their own experiences and to get and give support. NPR has covered the movement, as have many local news affiliates, CNN, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal and spread to other countries, including Germany and Japan. We look forward to continuing to spread the message of inclusion, community and possibility with one message: If you’re an engineer in any field, don’t worry; you’re already exactly what an engineer should look like.