The Twitter hashtag “#ILookLikeAnEngineer” has been much in the news lately. It reflects the power of social media in helping to disperse the cloud of confusion surrounding the real life professional experience of many individuals and the multiple prejudices pervading many segments of our society. It demonstrates quite clearly that many of the people who presume to know and understand the profile of folks in any given profession may be fully ignorant of the subject and honestly unaware of the depth of their ignorance.
The #ILookLikeAnEngineer controversy started with a female engineer who innocently agreed to help promote her company and assist with its drive to recruit other engineers. The social media world erupted with many questioning her honesty and erroneously concluded that she was simply an actress hired to play the role. This wasn’t the case, however. Isis Anchalee, (@Isis Anchalee) indeed is an engineer. She’s a software engineer who happens to be very proud of her achievements and eager to promote her profession and her company. She wasn’t seeking to make a statement beyond this. Anchalee also happens to be the opposite of the engineer’s profile some folks carry around. She is a beautiful, confident and assertive woman. That meant she could not possibly be an engineer in some people’s minds. She is. An engineer. Fully qualified. Competent. And unapologetically so.
“At the end of the day, this is just an ad campaign and it is targeted at engineers,” Anchalee wrote in a blog. “This is not intended to be marketed towards any specific gender — segregated thoughts like that continue to perpetuate sexist thought-patterns in this industry. 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.”
That’s the Anchalee experience. But the electronics and high-tech markets have many such misconceptions wafting through the industry. These false images lurking in our minds have both social and business consequences as demonstrated by Anchalee’s experience. First, it drives sexist ideas that women have been trying for centuries to avoid. Second, it creates an image and a data profile that has no connection with reality. This is a major problem because the high-tech industry deals with big data which decision makers use to determine where to pour resources and who to target with marketing materials. If Anchalee did not fit our image of an engineer, imagine how much money is being wasted by advertising and recruitment agencies charged with helping electronic companies recruit into the profession?
Read the complete blog at Verical Connect.