LinkedIn Creates Furor When It Bars Photos Of Pretty Female Engineers

Is it impossible to believe that beautiful women can be successful engineers? It apparently was inconceivable to some employees at LinkedIn, the professional social network. As Internet news website Daily Dot reported, last month LinkedIn pulled recruiting ads depicting attractive female engineers, telling the advertiser to use images "related to the product" instead.

On Friday, LinkedIn backed down and said "an error" had been made by the customer service department after LinkedIn members complained about the images, as a LinkedIn spokesperson told AOL Jobs via e-mail. But the damage was done. Taso Du Val, CEO of TopTal, an online community for software developers and the advertiser, was upset, as were bloggers, both of which accused LinkedIn of perpetuating sexism within the tech industry. (The image from the ad in question, which features developer Florencia Antara, is seen above.)

Du Val, for one, wrote a particularly fiery blog post condemning the "extreme sexism" by LinkedIn. In the post, entitled "In Defense of Female Engineers," he wrote the following:

"Members of the tech community (LinkedIn users) saw it as impossible that our female engineers could actually be engineers, and a leader of the tech community (LinkedIn) agreed with them. Unfortunately we're banned from showing anything except 100%, all male software advertisements from now on and so, that's what you'll be getting. I'm disappointed both on a personal and professional level. I expect better. It's sick."

Commenters on Du Val's blog post agreed with him. One said said LinkedIn was engaging in "nerd oppression because no female engineer could look good."

As it turns out, not every ad placed by Daily Dot used images of actual engineers, and instead relied on stock images. Some, however, did depict images of real developers like Florencia Antara, as seen above. But for Du Val, the question of authenticity is irrelevant. "Even if they were only stock photography, who cares? The point is, they're perfectly fine and represent normal professional people. Our male versions are no different," he wrote.

In response to uproar, LinkedIn reached out to Du Val on Friday and said "after careful consideration and careful review of all ads" it will re-enable the ads, as he recounted on his company's blog. Responding in the blog, he welcomed the decision: "This is fantastic news for everyone and we're thrilled this decision was made." (In speaking to AOL Jobs, a LinkedIn spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether anyone's job was in jeopardy as a result of the incident.)

Sexism....or bad advertising?
Not every online commentator saw LinkedIn's initial decision as sexist. Writing on the online forum Hacker News, user "dwild" charged TopTal of using cheap and unnecessary salacious ads. "Why do they show attractive women? Why not every type of women and every type of men?" The user went on, as did many othersHacker news, to question the ads because they gave off a "spam" vibe, and so were hard to believe as authentic.

In spite of high-profile tech leaders like Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, the tech industry has historically suffered from a "little bit of a time warp" in embracing female workers, as Laura Sherbin, director of research at Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP) told AOL Jobs.

And proof can be found beyond the script of "The Social Network." As Forbes has reported, the number of women in senior technology positions at U.S. companies dropped last year for the second year in a row. As of 2012, nine percent of U.S. chief information officers (CIOs) are female, down from 11 percent in 2011 and 12 percent in 2010.

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A few decades ago that mindset was definitely the case! It was kind of fun then to challenge the sterotypical norm of what people expected. HS Homecoming Queen. 3rd in class. Air Force ROTC scholarship. BSEE Penn State. 10 years automotive manufacturing and microlectronics sales. Actress, model, mom, video producer. Private pilot. Builder of own home. Grower of edamame. Creator of the CRESBI crate.
Never let anyone box you in because of or in spite of your looks. If you've got a dream, wake up and start going after it.

October 25 2013 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Any ladies from linkedIn interested in starting their own company , this old man would like to see a ray of sunshine in an otherwise pretty boring uniform stereo type net work web site , and No , Absolutely No , I am not interested seeing you in bikini , I have passed hat time , pretty Women can have great mind , be funny to give them the run for their money . They loose .

October 25 2013 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is so childish and stupid it belong to the joke section , so much for the network with more potential than google or apple in revenue .

October 25 2013 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Disco Harvey

Yeah. I work in industry, and ALL female engineers look JUST like that one. Guaranteed. Yep. No fat, stinky, smoking, odoriferous troglodyte engineers at my company. Just hot chicks.

October 25 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about allowing only white Christian engineers?

October 25 2013 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a member of Linkedin and know other members. Without reservation, some of the members will put any Holywood Female Star to Shame!

October 25 2013 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lance Cole

Seriously? As a former Director of Engineering for a well-known Class-5 thru 8 truck manufacturer, I can say that I've sat in engineering-hiring interviews with very lovely lady-engineers. Then again, I'm there to interview, not to pick up women. Normally (almost always, actually), technical and managerial positions collapse, as well as the company suffering, when you decide to hire someone based on looks. it shouldn't enter into it. Does it? Of course it does. During a span of 10-years, I fired 2 Engineering Managers for 'personal-professional conflicts' where one actually destroyed a whole plant engineering department, and ended up costing almost $1-million to 'repair'. Still want to 'hire the pretties'? You probably don't deserve the seat you hold, and that is a fact. Not married? Go to the bars, or wine-tasting events - doesn't matter, but the old adage, "one does not defecate where one eats" is more true than ever, in today's world.

October 24 2013 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Melissa McGehee

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who designed industrial gearboxes for Lufkin Industries. When I grew tired of that, I wrote programs and revamped the data handling processes from Sales through Engineering. Then I was promoted to Project Manager. Do I look the antiquated part? I certainly hope not. For a real eye opener, check out my other facebook profile, SocialMedia Melissa.

August 10 2013 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Melissa McGehee's comment
Lance Cole

Melissa, you seem to have a lot of fun marketing yourself based on your looks. There is actually a term for women who flaunt their 'physical wares and assets' for cash or advancement. No decent Engineering Manager should ever consider you for employment, with a post like this - even if said in jest.

October 24 2013 at 5:30 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

what are your thoughts on this guys? ...

August 09 2013 at 3:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Paul Apostolina

What would an internship job do for a soon to be 61 year old man, whose broke has no certificates of skills he has accrued over the years. Say the person has a CDL A, experience at stick welding, plumbing, steam heat repairs, has experience reading blueprints (because it was required to know to rebuild production machinery), knows LOTO, knows how to replace 3 phase motors, knows about confined space procedures, has a 30 year old certificate in airconditioning and refridgeration, but no one will give him a job. Where and whom does he turn to?

August 08 2013 at 12:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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