Isis Anchalee is a full-stacks engineer at tech startup OneLogin. She's also a yoga teacher, college dropout, and hip-hop dancer. Are you surprised by this second part? Why?
It's this notion—that we might have a stereotypical vision of what a female engineer looks or acts like—which Anchalee has set out to challenge. After her company asked her to appear in the seemingly innocuous recruiting ad above, Anchalee was suddenly subject to a swarm of commentary that she simply wasn't prepared for. Many tried to argue that it was a cheap ploy for the company to garner attention from both male and female candidates; that Anchalee looked too "sexy" to actually be an engineer, the glasses just appealing to the "hot nerd" stereotype. One Facebook commenter wrote, "But I'm curious if people with brains (sic)...and if women in particular buy this image of what a female engineer is supposed to look like."
"News flash," Anchalee wrote later on Medium. "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. The ad is supposed to be authentic. My words, my face, and as far as I am concerned, it is." She also made the good point that her male co-workers, who also appeared on ads for the campaign, would never be questioned or subject to such scrutiny.
With all this in mind and her story gaining traction, Anchalee decided to call on other female engineers who don't necessarily "fit the cookie-cutter mold of what people believe engineers 'should look like'" to post their own portraits with the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer.
The response has been so great that Anchalee is now launching a site with the same name, which will act as an online community and forum for those who want to share similar stories. "This industry's culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold," Anchalee writes in her essay. "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." Not to mention beyond that professional environment.