The ILookLikeAnEngineer buzz this week has been amazing. If you’ve missed it, here’s the short version: An engineer (young; female; pretty) is featured in a job recruiting campaign in San Francisco. The local community reacts by saying she “doesn’t look like an engineer”. In response, engineers everywhere, of all gender, race, age and background, respond with selfies tagged #ilooklikeananengineer.
What I’ve noticed most of all, though, is not the pictures. It’s what the engineers choose to include on the signs they’re holding. As it turns out, not only do engineers all look different – we have different interests and personalities, too.
For me, the assumptions about who I am and what I should enjoy are potentially more damaging than the assumptions about what I should wear and how I should look. So in that spirit, here’s what I “look like”, as an engineer:
- I’m a runner,
- a backpacker,
- a volunteer,
- a Christian,
- and a writer.
- I crochet. I like to crochet while waiting for economic models to converge.
- I love shoes, but I don’t like wearing anything that makes me prance at work.
- I don’t love makeup. My face melts if I have to go out in the plant.
- I’m not really good at math, but I can do it.
- I AM really good at patterns.
- I get bored doing one sort of thing for too long.
- I’m more productive in late afternoon / evening.
- I’m an introvert.
- I’m also the social planner in my group.
- I love pedicures.
- I hate manicures.
- I do not wear dockers and polos to work.
- I am still figuring out what I do wear to work.
- I’m also an MBA. I’m good at economics.
- I love being outside.
- I’m an organizer and a coordinator.
- I’m a collaborator and a teammate.
- I’m creative.
- I love projects: serious work ones and silly home ones.
- My ideal place: a library with a coffee shop inside.
- I love books. Physical books. Especially when they’re smelly.
Do you notice that the usual high school guidance counselor criteria, “loves science and math (and – subtext – star trek)” are not on my list? Yet I can’t imagine any career that would suit my personality better than engineering.