This simple question has sparked a global movement. #iLookLikeAnEngineer has now received over 75,000 tweets and has caused a veritable media storm.
The technology world is heavily male-dominated… or so many non-engineers would think. Isis Wenger (@isisAnchalee) is a 22-year-old platform engineer who created the hashtag “#iLookLikeAnEngineer,” after seeing how people reacted to her image in a company recruiting campaign. Isis took a selfie and tweeted it out with the slogan #iLookLikeAnEngineer, asking people to think about their assumptions and stereotypes.
One person who has experienced this issue first-hand is PopFuse Co-Founder Yichen Fan. She knows, that to be taken seriously and to break into the boys’ club of Silicon Valley is no small feat. Ms. Fan is a refreshing departure from your average tech founder, especially in the mobile gaming sector: Young, female and armed with an engineering degree from NYU. Even more unusual is the fact that she is focused on entertainment and not a technical product, even though she will be the first to tell you that building the PopFuse platform required tens of thousands of lines of complex code.
PopFuse was co-founded by Yichen Fan and Daniel Burns in New York as a mobile games company. After launching a few mobile games that reached the charts on iOS and Android, it soon became clear to them that a more radical approach was needed. They decided to build a platform that allowed users not only to play, but also to create and deploy their own games. In order to grow a huge platform, they needed to make both publishers and users partners and stakeholders in their success and provide them with an innovative set of creation tools.
PopFuse recently announced the expansion of its platform, allowing users to create and promote their own games. Now, both users and publishers can also easily embed media-rich trivia games, personality quizzes and polls on their sites.
For users, PopFuse is the platform that lets them play games about the content they love. For publishers, PopFuse is a great way to drive traffic and social shares by enhancing their content with fun, interactive experiences. So far Ms. Fan has been successful in her journey towards start-up success. PopFuse has received seed capital from a Chinese investor, is rapidly growing its global user base and has signed up a number of brands and publishers as partners. Now the heavy lifting begins. Can she overcome the obstacles so many other female engineers in Silicon Valley complain about? More importantly, can she succeed not just as an engineer, but as a founder, and attract the kind of support staff and investment capital her all-male peers are receiving?
For now, rest assured that an engineer can look just like Yichen Fan: A confident young woman, with plenty to prove in the tough field of digital entertainment. Not at Google, Apple or Intel, you’ll find her hard at work at her feisty startup PopFuse, tucked in a third-floor office on Broadway in New York. “I have met plenty of female engineers with similar skills, but they often choose the more traditional route of a safe job instead of pursuing their own thing,” adds Fan. “I’m proof that women engineers are ready for this role, and that we can create something fun and big. I’m all in, and excited about what we’re doing.”