Oct. 5, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A social media hashtag that took Twitter by storm late this summer rang true for several members of the University of Notre Dame rowing team.
Boasting 12 student-athletes who are enrolled or will enroll in the College of Engineering during their time under the Golden Dome, the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer provided the group and millions of engineers worldwide a platform to challenge the traditional opinion of what an engineer is supposed to look like.
“There’s a certain stereotype that people have of engineers, and especially women engineers — that we’re socially awkward, dress unfortunately and are one dimensional,” said Irish senior Megan McKeon. “I hope the ‘I look like an engineer’ movement helps show how well-rounded female engineers often are, and makes it so that people aren’t surprised to hear that a female student-athlete is studying engineering.”
The hashtag began after an engineering firm’s social media graphic featuring engineer Isis Wenger received some negative feedback from Internet commentators.
“#ILookLikeAnEngineer is intentionally not gender-specific,” said Wenger, the creater of the hashtag. “External appearances and the number of X chromosomes a person has is hardly a measure of engineering ability. My goal is to help redefine “what an engineer should look like” because I think that is a step towards eliminating sub-conscious bias towards diversity in tech.”
With the statement drumming up so much support worldwide since early August, Notre Dame rowing thought it would be fun to jump on board.
The Irish engineering student-athletes were asked to respond to two questions.
Here are just some of their answers:
What does the phrase “I look like an engineer” mean to you?
“‘Looking’ like an engineering means being able to think critically, analyze problems and apply knowledge to abstract scenarios. ‘Looking’ and ‘acting’ like an engineer also means being able to effectively work and communicate with others in a team environment.”
– Molly Pierce, freshman from Wayland, Massachusetts
“You look smart, maybe a bit nerdy, but in an ‘I can kick your bum in a math contest’ sort of way.”
– Emily Horton, senior from Dallas, Texas
“Like an engineer,” to me, means ‘like a problem solver.’ An engineer doesn’t just memorize facts. We learn concepts and practices that we can apply to many different situations and problems. We can make a huge impact on society, math, science and technology through innovations we create.
– Reilly Kearney, sophomore from San Mateo, California
“Looking like an engineer is more about action than appearance. Engineers are critical thinkers who are constantly in motion and trying to solve new problems. There is no one way you must physically appear to have the mind of an engineer.”
– Emily White, sophomore from Naperville, Illinois
What do you enjoy most about Notre Dame’s College of Engineering?
“I enjoy the amount of group work because it has enabled me to create a lot of friendships with my peers, which has helped make the work more enjoyable and has allowed for a more supportive learning environment.”
– Olivia Perham, sophomore from Moorestown, New Jersey
“I enjoy both the vast curriculum and the community of the engineering program at Notre Dame. I have grown as a student and as a person over the past three years, due to the challenging courses I have taken and the incredible people I have met along the way.”
– Joanna Mulvey, senior from Staatsburg, New York
“I really like the community of Notre Dame engineering. At a lot of other schools students get really competitive to get the top grade, but at Notre Dame I like that we really try to work together and learn from one another.”
– Alexis Olson, senior from Midland, Michigan
For more information on the Notre Dame rowing program, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDWomensRowing) and Twitter (@NDRowing).
–Russell Dorn, Athletics Communications Assistant Director