Here’s the story behind the massive #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign

After an advertisement in California sparked controversy online over what a female engineer “should look like,” women around the world have joined forces to fight gender stereotypes using the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. 

The ad, a promo for tech security company OneLogin, features 22-year-old Isis Anchalee, who works for the company as a full-stack engineer, Tech Crunch reported. She and three other OneLogin employees were selected to be in the campaign, with each ad including a picture and a quote about working at the company, Anchalee explained in an essay she shared on Medium

Anchalee isis

Photos of the ad made their way to Facebook and Twitter. There, people commented that Anchalee was too attractive to be an engineer. They even took issue with her facial expression, calling it a “sexy smirk.”

Mostly, people were sarcastic:

Isis anchalee

Instead of backing down, Anchalee took the commentary as an opportunity to make a statement about the sexism often experienced by women in the tech industry. 

“Some people think I’m not making ‘the right face,'”Anchalee wrote. “Others think that this is unbelievable as to what ‘female engineers look like.'”

In protest, she posted this photo holding a sign emblazoned with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer and invited people to use it to 
spread the word and help us redefine ‘what an engineer should look like.'”

Isis anchalee

 The campaign has taken off around the world. Thousands of women have tweeted pictures and messages using the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer to dispute stereotypes and lend support. 

Here’s a multi-generational #ILookLikeAnEngineer tweet featuring a mother and daughter. 

“I didn’t want or ask for any of this attention, but if I can use this to put a spotlight on gender issues in tech, I consider that to be at least one win,” Anchalee wrote on Medium

#ILookLikeAnEngineer trended on Facebook  and Twitter this week and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

The campaign has since grown from its Twitter origins. Over $US9,000 has already been raised on crowd-funding platform Indidgogo to put up an #ILookLikeAnEngineer billboard, Tech Crunch reported.  You can even pre-order T-shirts with the hashtag, with part of of the proceeds going towards scholarships for women in tech. 

Anchalee is also working on launching a digital platform where women can talk about what it’s like to work in tech. 

Perhaps the most powerful responses are the simplest ones. 

“I look like an engineer because I am one,” writes this Twitter user. 

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