Calendar girls, geek edition?

A calendar featuring women working in IT seem to be causing major waves in media this week, with the Australian Computer Society withdrawing its support. The calendar consists of photos of the models posing as screen sirens with scenes/posters copied from such movies such as Charlie’s Angels, Basic Instinct, Dr No and Star Wars. Sonja Bernhardt, the only Australian inducted into Women in Technology International’s hall of fame and founder of Women in Technology Queensland (WIT) conceptualised the calendar and posed for its American Beauty cover.

The primary objective of the calendar is to attract girls to go into information technology, a field usually considered irrelevant and boring. Ms Bernhardt has said that “the method in the madness is to get to a broader audience so that people can see that it’s not nerds in the IT industry.”

The calendar has drawn mixed reactions though, with some people saying that the models were portrayed as sex objects. One comment I read in the digg.com forum said that it’s not a good idea to shatter a stereotype(women in IT are geeky) with another stereotype(women are sex objects) and goes on to say that a model posing as a captured Princess Leia in a golden bikini does little to help empower women who are already in IT.

When I first showed hubby the article about the controversy surrounding the calendar, he said that the calendar seem to be targeted for men. I don’t think showing IT women as bombshells would make the future generation of girls go rushing into the industry. I understand that they would like to portray women in the industry as sexy, intelligent and interesting but I didn’t think that imitating actors in posters is a good choice. I would have preferred to see a photo of them going about their daily lives and seeing what they do when they’re not in front of the monitors. Maybe a photo of someone taking a photo (if the model is into photography) or maybe someone interested in rock climbing being shown in one of her climbs or even something ordinary like playing with kids (maybe a mum) or maybe working as a volunteer. With the proper execution and a good photographer, it could have been classy, interesting and would have shown that people in IT contribute to society too, albeit a bit behind the scenes sometimes. Which was why my favorite photo is that of Sharon Don, who posed as Dr No character Honey Ryder. She’s a self-confessed beach body and photo of her used in the calendar shows what she like to do when she’s not working with computers.

They say any publicity is good publicity, I don’t know if that’s true in this case. I do hope they still do well with the sale of this calendar. After all, it’s easy to criticise but it should be remembered that they’ve put themselves out there in the name of fun and a good cause.

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Published in: on July 13, 2006 at 1:27 am  Comments (2)