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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?

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.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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