#Ilooklikeanengineer. Of course I do. I am smart, assertive and have a true passion for all things technology. Guess what else I look like? #ilooklikethebossofengineers. That’s right, not only am I an engineer, but I also lead a team of 30 engineers.
My name is Anu Krishnan and I have been watching the viral campaign #Ilooklikeanengineer for the past 10 days. A simple recruitment campaign has turned into something bigger and better. I have to smile with pride seeing these women, young and not so young, coming and visually breaking the stereotypes found in the technology industry. When I see these photos I see smart, assertive and creative, YES I said CREATIVE women in an amazing career and path I started to pursue more than 15 years ago.
To be honest, coming from India, it was a culture shock to see how few women were involved in engineering here in the States, especially considering how creative engineering is as a career. Here, I found myself a minority in a field in which a large percentage of women in India feel at home. Since I’m a bit of a rare bird here in the United States (but looking at this campaign, maybe a little less rare than it seems), I’m often asked what it will take to encourage women to join the ranks of engineers.
When I take a step back and try to answer this question myself, I can pin down a few different thoughts that I think resonate with a lot of women. First, I believe that a lot of women shy away from the profession because they think that engineering is dull and lacks creativity. People assume that to succeed at being an engineer, one’s mind needs to work and process information in a certain way that is much different than how creative types work. I wholeheartedly disagree with this notion. In fact, I would argue that creativity is a requirement in order to be a successful engineer. One of my favorite parts of working as an engineer is the ability I have to creatively bring a product to life. Being able to put a layer of skin on the product, to breathe life into it and present it to the client, is what I find thrilling.
Second, I believe that women might be intimidated by how demanding the field can be. Of course, there is a tremendous amount of tedious work that goes on behind the scenes, but having the passion to succeed and the drive to complete one’s projects is what leads to success and can drive immense creativity. The challenges that I have been presented with throughout my career have taught me how to think more abstractly and in turn, given me more confidence in my work.
When I joined Axcient, it was one of the few places where I wasn’t the only woman on the team. In fact, I’m writing this during a short visit to our office in Smolensk, Russia where I’m surrounded by amazing, smart, and creative engineers – and 40% of them are women. It’s an honor to work with and for a company that values diversity in the work place, a company that encourages people to break stereotypes. There are more companies like Axcient out there that want to see people who break the traditional engineering mold. We want to hire the best person for every job, and I truly believe that within the next five years I will see more women engineers and decision makers join the club. I am confident that strong and intellectual women will walk through my door and interview with me. I have confidence that crucial changes will happen and I will see the ratio of male and female engineers in the Silicon Valley even out. Female engineers will enhance working environments, enhance their teams, and enhance the overall engineering industry.
It might not be perfect now, but we are making strides every day with every campaign out there. If you are a female engineer and feel unsure or intimidated about your career path or the work you’re being assigned – contact me. Seriously, please do so. I’m a busy boss, but I am always looking for smart people to join my team and I’m always willing to help a fellow engineer. Heck, you might even look like me -#ilooklikeanenginner and a boss and a mom trying to do it all…but that’s a different blog for a different time 😉
Until then, BRAVO to the #ilooklikeanengineer campaign. I am proud to be associated with such amazing minds.