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She never dreamed having her picture taken to recruit engineers would turn out to be a controversy.

Is it really that hard to imagine software engineers can be ANYBODY?

She never dreamed having her picture taken to recruit engineers would turn out to be a controversy.

When Isis Wenger agreed to be part of a recruiting campaign for engineers, she never imagined she'd face the controversy that arose.

Image courtesy of Isis Wenger.


What exactly was it about this image that had people clamoring to dissect her involvement? Did she say something messed up about engineering? Did she do something offensive in her pose? Check out the image and see if you can pick up on it.

Image courtesy of Isis Wenger.

Did you notice it yet? Well let me help you out: All of the hubbub is over what she looks like. Because she's a woman. And because she's photogenic by traditional standards, people have even more to say about her inclusion into the campaign.

Some Internet commenters had some weird and sometimes offensive responses to her ad. Well, I have some responses to them.

"If their intention is to attract more women then it would have been better to choose a picture with a warm, friendly smile rather than a sexy smirk."
— Annoying person on the Internet

So she smirked. The fact that you find it sexy is all happening in your head. That's not on her or the ad campaign.

"This is some weird haphazard branding. I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes. Perhaps that's the intention all along. But I'm curious [if] people with brains find this quote remotely plausible and if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like. IDK. Weird."
— Equally annoying person on the Internet

This image lets women see a woman in a male-dominated profession and maybe be inspired by it. And yet somehow, her effort has been twisted into a male-centric view. She fits into the standard of what you've been programmed to deem attractive, guy, therefore, she must have been intended for your ocular consumption, right? It's also pretty telling that you didn't "buy this image" — since it turns out the image is real. She IS what a female engineer looks like. Because she is one. Duh.

But the really great part of the story comes next. Because Isis wrote about it, and then the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer took off, showing that engineers come in all genders, shapes, skin colors, and sizes.

Image courtesy of Isis Wenger.


Now it looks like the #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement has raised enough money to put up a billboard in San Francisco, making an overt attempt to change the general public's mind about what engineers look like.

It even inspired me to start taking my own career-change aspirations seriously.

Today, I'm a writer. But, having thought about this seriously for awhile, who knows what tomorrow could bring? The campaign gives inspiration not just to female engineers who deserve to be seen, but also to me and the millions of people secretly asking themselves this question:

For the young girls, grown women, and people of color in your life who may just need that nudge of encouragement, seeing this could make a huge difference in their life's trajectory.

That is what one picture — and a great movement — can do.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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