Shout out to Jim Stroud for sparking this bit of creativity.
The conversation was about finding women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) and we had a room full of people tossing out ideas. (It was during the first SourceConATL meetup.)
Some of the ideas were using Boolean search with words like “her” OR “she” because when people write recommendations, that would be a couple of words that would be used. Another was to search the top sororities. One was looking at the list of popular female baby names from the general years of someone and go back a few decades and use that as a starting point. One was to run the search as an x-ray search and then go to Google Images to find females that matched the profile. Another great one was to find conference or meetup or groups for women who code. There were others as well, all good suggestions. But the one that Stroud pointed out was also great, and one that I hadn’t thought of.
Stroud brought up the story of Isis Wenger.
Wenger was a 22-year-old software engineer that appeared in an ad for her company OneLogin. The advertisement caused quite a bit of controversy. People thought she was a fake. A model that the company had hired just for the ad. The sad part is that some people even said her smile was too ‘sexy.’ An engineer can’t have a beautiful smile or be a physically attractive female. Crazy right?
Sadly, this is a common issue that women have faced in many careers, not just as engineers. Even in fandom, women are accused of being “fake gamer girls” or “fake geeks” just out for the attention and not fans.
Well, new flash buckos, people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, and yes, even sex can be whatever they want.
A bit of good news that came out of this story was how people banded together to support Wenger. Ladies from all over started posting pictures of themselves with the hashtag “#ILookLikeAnEngineer.” People rushed to Twitter and Instagram to show support and show the world that you can look like an engineer even if you don’t fit a stereotype.
This movement exploded and is on Google+, Flicker, Instagram, and yes, even LinkedIn.
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And you thought the network side of Big Blue was dying. In searching for that hashtag and many others thanks to Stroud pulling in Hashtagify, I was able to find conversations happening.
The cool thing about looking for people that care about these things is they are easy to find. If you’re passionate about making diversity an important part of your recruiting strategy, you’ll have common ground to join the conversation.
There are many other examples of people trying to break the stereotypical molds that society has set for us. There are several other hashtags that you can use to find people that are trying to help us push past the boundaries of our ignorance. Look for them and share them with us. I’d love to know what else you’re doing to lead the diversity efforts in your organization.