Beth Stebner
August 05, 2015 8:10 am

A self-taught female tech worker in Silicon Valley is firing back after a storm of negative comments from internet users claiming she just doesn’t look like a female engineer.

Isis Wenger, who works for San Francisco-based company OneLogin, was recently featured in the company’s recruiting campaign, which was posted around some of the city’s public transit stations.
“My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious,” the poster says, accompanied by a bespectacled Wenger smizing at the camera, TechCrunch reports.

But, apparently, her look isn’t what some people thought a female engineer “should” look like. Why exactly? One Facebook commenter asserted that it wasn’t “remotely plausible” for “women in particular (to) buy this image of what a female software engineer should look like,” according to CNNMoney. It seems like critics think that Wenger is either a) too pretty to be an engineer or b) too feminine to be one . . . since obviously all engineers are still men.

But Wenger didn’t take the criticism lightly. Writing on Medium, the 22-year-old hit back at critics who reduced her to just her image. “I doubt that most of you know me. I am a passionate self-taught engineer, extreme introvert, science-nerd, anime-lover, college dropout, hip hop dancer, yoga teacher/hoop-dance teacher, really authentic friend and human,” she writes. “In fact, if you knew me you would probably know that being famous is one of my biggest nightmares; seriously right up there with falling into a porta potty (sic).” [Editor’s note: Us too!]

Wenger goes onto explain the deep-seeded sexism in the tech industry, revealing that some of her male co-workers (who she says are intelligent and generally “normal”) have thrown money at her, while others have asked her to be “friends-with-benefits.” As a response to all the negativity, Wenger created the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer to question preconceived perceptions of what an engineer should look like. The campaign has drawn attention and support from female engineers around the globe, with more than 26,000 responses on Twitter as of Wednesday morning. We are totally loving the solidarity.

We think it’s empowering that Wenger has turned this challenge into an opportunity to shape the conversation into something positive.

Now, here’s hoping the tech industry starts to accept that engineers — and, of course, women — come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s not one particular “look” that’s right or wrong. What do engineers look like? They look like anyone who happens to be an engineer.

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[Images via Twitter]

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