news.com.au reports that MS has hired former Miss Australia Erin McNaught to sex up the computer industry’s geeky image and describes her as a “University Drop-Out” (later in the article it’s revealed that she deferred her course so she might end up completing it). Hiring her is supposed to demonstrate that IT careers have “gone from geek to chic”.
There are lots of more professional ways of demonstrating that idea. One way is to compare the median income of IT people ($54,422 according to payscale.com) to the median for the Australian population ($13,200 to $20,000 for females and $31,200 to $41,600 for males in 2006 according to the ABS) which clearly indicates that IT people get paid more than most Australians.
Another way is to use adverts such as the Apple adverts for Mac vs PC, and Novell adverts for Linux vs Mac vs PC. Note how the female Linux character in the Novell adverts is cool and cute while still keeping all her clothes on.
Yet another possibility would be to find some cute female MS employees and get them to do the promotion. MS is one of the largest IT companies in the world and has a large presence in Australia, surely they have enough female employees that they can find someone to do this promotion who isn’t famous for wearing a bikini!
Hiring a model who is famous for swim-suit work to promote the computer industry isn’t going to affect the career choices of any but the least talented male students and if anything will scare off female students (who are already under-represented in the computer industry). The fact that the news.com.au story included a set of pictures of her in swim-suits and lingerie with the title Erin McNaughty really says it all.
It seems to me that Danni Ashe (wikipedia link) is better qualified for the MS job – after all she has even been recognised by the Guinness book of records for her work in sexing up the computer industry. Unlike Erin she has created web sites herself and started a very successful online business. Surely if being famous for wearing bikinis makes Erin suitable then being famous for wearing no clothes at all makes Danni even more suitable! :-#
But seriously, has anyone ever hired the Chippendales (wikipedia) to advertise in the computer industry? There is a reason why that sort of thing doesn’t happen, and the same reason would apply to hiring an ex miss-Australia.
Updated to fix a bad link.