I am the co-organizer of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer billboard/ad campaign now going up around San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Oakland and was also the organizer and host of our event on diversity and inclusion in technical communities. I'd love to give a talk on my experiences with #ILLAE, and the purpose of our awareness campaign, which aims to show the many human faces of engineering (all ages, genders, racial background, educational backgrounds, etc) in an effort to help people see themselves in the tech careers that can often be so unwelcoming to underrepresented groups.
The campaign certainly doesn't solve the larger problems with hiring, pipeline, retention, education, etc, which are largely corporate issues, but starting an awareness campaign was one thing Michelle, Isis, and I knew we could accomplish as individuals, to change the perception/face of the diversity in tech discussions, and attempt to break stereotypes a small but important way.
Even seeing myself in a tech career is something I struggle with (despite very much being IN a tech career). I come from a nontraditional background (education, history), didn't start coding until I was 28, and am largely self taught. I hesitate to even call myself an engineer.
The #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign seeks to break down the artificial barriers (degree, seniority, founder credentials, etc) created by the industry, and the stereotypes created by the larger public (race, gender, age, etc) and says loudly: if you write software, you ARE a software engineer, and are already *exactly* what an engineer should look like.