How One Female Engineer Is Finally Shaking Up the Tech World's Nerd Bro Image

Female Engineer Poster

A Silicon Valley engineer is getting a lot of attention this week for something that has absolutely nothing to do with math or coding. This super-smart tech woman is getting her 15 minutes of fame for her looks -- because, you know, beauty and brains can never mix. Commence eyerolls.

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Here’s the story: Isis Anchalee Wenger is a full-stack engineer at OneLogin who was asked if she would allow her picture to be featured on her company’s recruiting campaign poster, which was hung around BART mass transit stations around the Bay Area. But what ensued was the finding that this really super-ridiculously good-looking woman was completely unbelievable as a brainy engineer.  

The shocked reaction to seeing a drop-dead gorgeous woman engineer is an important object lesson in the kinds of sexism that keep our women and girls from succeeding in traditionally male careers.

One Facebook user, a dude whose name was blacked out for privacy, wrote this comment on a post of Isis's poster: "This is some weird haphazard branding. I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes. Perhaps that was the intention all along. But I’m curious people with brains find this quote remotely plausible, and if women in particular buy this image of what a female engineer looks like. Idk. Weird.”

Weird? It’s just completely implausible that a beautiful woman could also have a bodacious brain? C’mon, man.

It was comments like this one and many others that inspired Wenger to tweet a picture of herself with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. And that sentiment has caught on like wildfire among other women in male-dominated fields who refuse to ditch their femininity just to help people feel more comfortable about their smarts.

Isis also wrote more in-depth about her experience as an engineering poster girl, and includes more shocking stories of workplace sexism she’s encountered in her engineering career.

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See, being pretty and smart aren’t mutually exclusive for women. We can do all sorts of things at the same time. We can do math and worry about having bouncy hair. We can be doctors and lawyers and have babies at the same time. Women can be police chiefs and firefighters and sex up our men when we get home. We can negotiate trade agreements and have periods. We’re good at doing lots of stuff at the same time, is the point. That’s kind of our jam.

As women continue to assume their place among men in the workplace, it continues to be an unspoken rule that in order to succeed you need to leave anything that’s widely considered feminine at home. Women aren’t supposed to be sociable or too approachable, lest they be deemed unworthy of leadership roles. If we look "too pretty" we’re discounted as stupid or vapid. Too unkempt and we’re not "professional looking." And we damn sure aren’t supposed to show a shred of emotion for fear we’ll be labeled as "aggressive" or "strident" or too weak to take a stand. A workplace that automatically discounts anything associated with being a woman will always be inherently sexist.

Lucky for us, today’s modern working woman is happy to raise a perfectly manicured middle finger in the direction of anyone who thinks it’s not cool to be a girl at work. And while other dudes in the workforce might have a tough time wrapping their heads around the concept of a competent professional who also proudly happens to embrace their womanhood, those attitudes are being slowly chipped away at by the grit of ladies like Isis Wenger and the others like her who are tired of pretending they don’t care about contouring and clothes.

And nothing more perfectly illustrates this professional girl power movement than the ladies who took to social media to show the world, and little girls with big dreams everywhere, exactly what an engineer looks like. Take a good look and remember being a girl is awesome, so own it, even at work.

Here’s just another run-of-the-mill math geek/dancer.

Here’s someone bragging on their equally hot and brilliant sister

Engineers take slightly duck-lipped selfies in the bathroom mirror too. And they look good doing it.
 

Here’s a lady who handles being a mum and an electrical engineer and Islamic Cultural Advisor to the Royal Australian Navy.

Smart ladies who happen to also be good at math isn’t anything new.

Here are some GE Controls engineers on the job.

Here’s what a rocket scientist looks like. Spoiler: real good.

Badass fine grandmas are engineers too. Cute dress!



Becky Bracken is a news and views writer who serves it up with a sassy side of girl power. If you don't have anything nice to say, you should probably sit next to her. Get more at NerdieGaga.com.


Image via TechCrunch/Twitter

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