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This Is What a FindLaw Engineer Looks Like

For this month's From the Managing Editor series, I want to think about Silicon Valley's latest controversy: #ILookLikeAnEngineer. It all started when her company decided to feature a picture of Isis Anchalee as part of a recruiting campaign. Isis, to the horror of some, is young, pretty, and female. Was this just a ploy to lure brogrammers to the company? She must be a model or some kind of fake! No, Isis is a full-stack engineer for OneLogin.

As a woman in a field until lately dominated by men (the law), I sympathize, emphasize, and can sum up my reaction to the doubters and haters with a simple, "get over it." I also grew up in the Valley, the daughter of an engineer. While most of my father's peers back in the day were white men, by the time I hit high school I was vastly familiar with a diverse group of nerds; men, women, Asian, Indian, African American who preferred to be grouped by coding language and allegiance to Original Series or New Generation. (You don't want to know.)

In my current professional life, it occurred to me a while back that the engineering group here at FindLaw.com looked kind of unusual -- at least if you compare it to say Facebook, Google, or other companies struggling with diversity issues. I was right, we are a diverse bunch, and proud of it.

#ILookLikeAFindLawEngineer

I decided to ask the engineering managers about their actual stats,* are we really as woman friendly as I think? Yep, turns out we are. The two main groups here (one headed by a woman) are 50% and 66% women. On top of that (literally, on top) is our CTO, a great gal by the name of Lisa Schlosser. In fact, when I go to cross-functional meetings with the tech group these days, I would say it is even more female heavy than the law-based content producers I manage. Looks like I need to do some hashtaging of my own. How does #ILookLikeALegalWriter sound? Eh, needs work.

#ILookLikeaTRTechnologist

Last Monday, I opened an email from the mothership, Thomson Reuters Legal. It was one of those business unit-wide newsletter things. I always take a quick read; hey, you never know where your next blog topic is going to come from. In the email, I saw the link to a post on our Hub about what a TR Technologist "looks" like. I saw incredible support, pictures and posts from technologists, non-techies, women, men, and all ethnicities. My favorite was a TwitPic of an employee's mom captioned "Mom's career was software development. Began on punchcards, ended on AWS. #ILookLikeAnEngineer because she did too."

It STEMS From ...

A good friend of mine spoke at the STEM Summit 3.0 in New York a few weeks ago. A White House Tech Advisor to the President was in attendance and asked (somewhat at the last minute I might add) that the speakers give their expert opinion on some YouTube clips about unconscious bias in science and tech hiring.

In the clip I saw, a man and a woman were up for the same academic spot. The woman was soft spoken, apologized for herself, and seemed a bit unsure. The man was outgoing, eager with questions and wanted to talk details of the job right away. I hit the roof. I understand the point of this completely, or at least I think I do. But to paint "the woman" as apologetic and uncertain pissed me off to no end. I would never act that way in a job interview because that is not how you get the offer. Why is that how we think women "look"? But I know the issues -- so do I just have to live with that for a while until the science and tech communities come around to a more accepting stance?

For now, I suppose I will settle for being part of a law school class that was 49% women and part of an office positively teaming with female engineers. I like the energy, the differences of opinion and assumption, the fresh perspectives. And hell, I just like seeing sisters doing it for themselves.

*The numbers quoted in this article are from informal headcounts by FindLaw managers. They are not official hiring statistics from our Human Resources group. Please take them as the anecdotal evidence they are meant to be.