What Does An Engineer Look Like? Campaign Counters Stereotypes

By Elizabeth Hernandez
Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) When Lilian Garcia heard about the University of Colorado’s adoption of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign and hashtag, she knew she wanted to be involved to show students and the world that engineers go beyond the stereotypical well-off, white man.

Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

Lilian Garcia revels in watching people’s eyes bug out of their head when she tells them she’s an engineer.

The 23-year-old civil engineer graduated in May from the Engineering Plus program in the University of Colorado’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Garcia used to look around her classes and become discouraged when she couldn’t find anyone like herself — a first-generation college student and Latina from Aurora who was struggling academically.

“There were a lot of opportunities for me to give up and quit,” Garcia said. “But I fought back, and I said, ‘No. I’m going to be an engineer.'”

When she heard about CU’s adoption of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign and hashtag, she knew she wanted to be involved to show students and the world that engineers go beyond the stereotypical well-off, white man.

The “I Look Like an Engineer” campaign originated in 2015 when Isis Wenger, a San Francisco-based engineer, was featured on a promotional billboard for her company.

Wenger began receiving backlash, with people insisting she had to be a hired model rather than an engineer because she was “too attractive” to be a “real engineer.” She kicked off the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer for others to use to showcase the diversity in her chosen field.

The CU engineering school has embraced this message and is now encouraging its students to break those stereotypes, too.

“In engineering and science and innovation, it’s all about new ways of doing things and new ideas and thinking about problems differently,” said Phil Larson, assistant dean of CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

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