When OneLogin put four employees up on billboards in the Bay Area as recruiting tools, nothing could have prepared them for the type of attention that came their way. OneLogin included Isis Anchalee, a female engineer, and many accused the company of exploiting her gender in an effort to attract male engineers—or, at the very least, misrepresenting the role of women in the tech world. “I was not personally ready for the amount of attention that it has brought me,” Anchalee says.
Her story is as amazing as it is condemning of tech culture here in Silicon Valley. Her picture was shared, discussed, analyzed, and torn apart, but as a result of all of this, Isis used the attention to put a spotlight on gender issues in tech—to show that engineers can look like, well, anything. “[M]ost 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,” she says.
After her grassroots campaign, #ILookLikeAnEngineer, started trending on Twitter—as people from all cultural, ethnic, and gender backgrounds posting pictures of themselves—Michelle Glauser, an engineering friend of Isis paired up to create an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for a billboard to celebrate the diversity of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer posts. Since then, almost $20,000 has been raised, and the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag has reached all corners of the globe, and thousands of people tweeting.
In this episode of the Webmonkey podcast, I sit down with Michelle and talk about her campaign, along with Kathleen Vignos, Director of Engineering here at WIRED. In addition to the ad campaign, we talk more broadly about the gender issues in tech, and the ways that some companies are trying to work to change the trends. One positive example is Facebook, who has recently published their Managing Bias training that they are putting all of their employees through. We also talk about the ethics of ad blocking, and what we are doing at WIRED to counteract ad blocking products.