Kay lives here

working with the web

IT Screen Goddess Calendar

Nothing like a bit of controversy…

I wasn’t going to comment until after the proper web site launched, but it’s been in the news now so I figure I might as well. The wonderful Sonja Bernhardt, who will be returning as a judge at the 2006 WA Web Awards, is behind the IT Screen Goddess calendar, an effort to break geeky stereotypes by showing 12 beautiful and intelligent IT professionals recreating classic movie screen goddess poses. Proceeds will be going to fund groups that promote IT careers to young women.

My good friend Megyn Carpenter, web coach extraordinare, is managing the web site project, and I’ve been helping out with the payment gateway and some SEO advice. Three Perth women are featured in the calendar – Megs herself, Kara O’Halloran and Nat Brunovs.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the concept. Rosemary Lynch, a woman who I have the utmost respect and admiration for, posted Gender Mind Bender about how it seemed a strange idea to her, and wonders what the response would be if a man had suggested the calendar instead of a woman. I can definitely see her point. On the other hand, I do believe there’s something to be said for the idea of women “taking back” the idea of a pinup calendar, turning it into something positive rather than something negative.

My own issue with the project stems more from promotion of unhealthy body image. All the women in the calendar are absolutely gorgeous, and while they might argue that they are just ordinary people with the benefit of great lighting, make up and photography, at the end of the day it is a glamour shoot and they are there because they are beautiful. What is the message that is being sent to young girls with a poor body image – that those who are successful in the IT industry are as stunning as movie stars as well as brainy? While it may help girls who have a negative view of the IT industry, is it putting up a mental barrier for girls who don’t feel they have “all that”? Are we trying to replace one harmful stereotype with another?

It’s a hard question. I don’t know the answer. I do commend Sonja and everyone involved in the project for getting out there and doing something positive, and I also commend people like Rosemary for stirring the pot and getting some discussion going.

Maybe Rose, the next Perth Web Women Wednesday should involve jelly wrestling – pro-calendar vs anti-calendar :)


  1. Well spotted in the news – interesting! Nothing like a bit of controversy. Nice post – I particularly like the “utmost respect and admiration” part! Thanks you’ve made my day! To celebrate I’ll put in an order for a “special hi-tech super-duper slippery as, jelly wrestling kit!”. According to the web site it comes in 4 funky colours so I’ll order tham all!!

  2. Maybe we need one for men in the IT industry to dispel the myth that we all look 14, sit in the dark stuffing our faces with pizza and spend every 6th minute looking for porn.

  3. Uh, thats a myth? Since when?

  4. As one of the models for the calendar, (month sept)
    I’d like to say in regards to body image:
    The ages for the calendar range from the youngest, 21 – over 60.There is an enthnicity mix there are african, asian, sri lanka, european and white australian, and a mixture of body types. ALL are REAL women in IT none are professional models. None of it is promoting unhealthy body image. There is a mixture from charlies angels to princess diaries. Disney, Bollywood and Hollywood.

    We weren’t pulled together because we are ‘beautiful’ we got asked to be in it because of being in I.T.
    Sonja has done a great job, as i’m sure all of you agree. :o)

  5. hello great posts:-) just a quick word from me (sonja the screen goddess innovator) I could talk for hours on this topic – but a quick post. Kay good point re: what message about body image – you know to me what I hope people see is this message – we are bombarded with media images of ‘gorgeous’ women and many people invalidly try to judge themselves on those images (which are mostly models in professional poses) in the calendar we have taken real women wth real (sorry unreal) careers and shown that with lighting, make up and wonderful quality production that the truth is – every woman IS gorgeous – it’s just how you see it, how the image is portrayed.

    We are trying to show that as society tends to admire actressess, movie stars, pop stars etc we are hoping that our screen goddess images will result in an admiration for people who really can make a difference to the future world – those of us in technology can and will improve future lives and as such deserve to be on a pedestal and admired by society in general for what we do and will continue to do:-)

  6. I mean no disrespect and find the overall idea a fantastic one, but the fact that it’s movie stills seems extremely hokey to me. Perhaps settings of them in action, replacing server parts or programming into the wee hours of the night.

    I for one would be willing to purchase one, but the content really bothers me. Theres no way I’d put that on my wall. Just my 2 cents, but I wish the project the best of luck.

  7. hello me again hey PS did you know EVERY shot has technology placed in it. eg in megs shot her necklace is a usb drive, some shots have multiple items. Work out what are the tech items in the cover shot…….

    We took items from the original shots and replaced them with techie ones instead. ALSO good news we WILL also be selling screen savers of the shots:-) anyway I will but out (PS you are the only blog I have posted comments to on this topic – others I just read). butt out and leave you to your blogging:-) regards

  8. “I mean no disrespect and find the overall idea a fantastic one, but the fact that it’s movie stills seems extremely hokey to me. Perhaps settings of them in action, replacing server parts or programming into the wee hours of the night. I for one would be willing to purchase one, but the content really bothers me. ”
    Jesus Christ, grow a dick, wanker. Im good for 3.

  9. I think its a great calendar and don’t know what the
    controversy is about.I hope the general population
    isn’t as prudish as the ACS.Is is quite disappointing
    that that the depiction of a scene from American
    Beauty could be considered exploitation.Lucky there
    were no Stormtroopers in the Star Wars scene
    otherwise people might be worried that it was
    glamourising war.The ACS needs to chill out as
    with this type of attitude it is not supprising
    that women are not choosing IT as a career.
    Though people have a point about body image,
    they need to remember that the calendar needs to
    sell as well.

  10. what a pity ths valuable blog stopped a month ago.

    Keep kicking it’s a REAL and often PAINFUL issue.

    HIT HARD!!!!!!!!