Isis Wenger, 22, an engineer at a San Francisco-based tech firm, was surprised when her appearance in a recruiting ad for the company sparked a backlash. The ad made its way to social media and sparked comments like the one from a man who said he was curious, "if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like."
A self-described nerd who likes anime, yoga and hip-hop dancing, Wenger said "being famous is one of my biggest nightmares" but she took to social media, hoping to find some good in the attention. She created the hashtag after she told her story in a Medium post.
"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. The reality is that most people are well intentioned but genuinely blind to a lot of the crap that those who do not identify as male have to deal with."
Wenger was surprised that people online criticized everything from her looks to her words to the smile on her face. They didn't believe she even worked for the company, OneLogin.
"News flash: 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."
Once Wenger hit Twitter with the hashtag, women (and some men) immediately began tweeting, showing the many faces of engineering.
Wenger explained the original advertisement: "At the end of the day, this is just an ad campaign and it is targeted at engineers. This is not intended to be marketed towards any specific gender — segregated thoughts like that continue to perpetuate sexist thought-patterns in this industry."
"The negative opinions about this ad that strangers feel so compelled to share illustrate solid examples of the sexism that plagues tech," Wenger wrote. "This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold. I’m sure that every other women and non-male identifying person in this field has a long list of mild to extreme personal offenses that they’ve just had to tolerate."
And one engineer even weighed in from really far away.
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