Images via Bored Panda.
Versatile! Dependable! Compatible! Maybe even sexy? Well, judging from the lucky fellow in the second advertisement, it sure looks like computers can transmit some serious sexual magnetism. When I was searching for subject matter for this current edition of Vintage Sexism, I was taken aback by how many computer and software ads targeted men exclusively, using women as eye candy to enhance the appeal of the products, like how bikini-clad hotties are portrayed in flashy sports car ads. I found myself wondering how many of these were out there, and just how bad things got.
Images via Old-Computers.com.
In the above ad, this guy lands himself not one, but two lovely ladies lounging poolside with him while he leisurely conducts some serious executive business (with a piña colada at arm’s reach). The message here, similar to that of the Technico ad, insinuates that men need computers in order to be successful, perhaps both in business and in pleasure. But, why only men? It simply does not compute!
Ouch, that first ad really stings! The perplexed look on that poor, bewildered working woman’s face indicates that even when she’s presented with a computer in the office, she has no idea what to do with it. And the second ad removes the woman altogether, but assigns the computer a female gender, giving it all of the ideal qualities of the perfect secretary—no actual woman needed.
These were different times, indeed—long before computers became ubiquitous in households, workplaces, school, and almost every other part of modern society. Back then, they were largely seen as tools of the workplace, and the workplace was still largely seen as a man’s turf. Both of the above ads call attention to professional careers in the computer science industry, where there was clearly little room for women to thrive at the time!
But even nowadays, men are still statistically much more prominent in this particular industry than women. Both the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Women & Information Technology recently published research reporting on the imbalance of gender diversity in these professions, with the NCWIT noting that woman today earn only 18 percent of all computer science degrees—a surprising and major drop from 1985, when women earned 37 percent of CS degrees. Do you think the stereotype of computer science as a male field still exists? Techie female ModLovers, we’d love to hear from you!
As a side note, there are some great blogs and resources out there for women who are interested in computer science and technology—check out Geek Feminism Blog, The Female Perspective of Computer Science, and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.