Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is this any way to change the perception of women in tech?

An specialized underwear company called "Dear Kate" had a cheeky idea to promote its wares while also celebrating diverse women who are crashing the technology industry "boys' club": get a bunch of female CEOs of tech companies to pose in their skivvies for the online catalogue.

Dear Kate is not an ordinary lingerie company. Its products were originally designed as a less-Dependsish for women suffering from incontinence, and has since branched out into promoting leakproof "period panties."

The Drum reports that the Ada Collection is named after Ada Lovelace, the woman who created the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. And despite criticism, the women participating felt they were doing the right thing:

Adda Birnir, founder of SkillCrush [seen below] admitted to Time that she did have doubts: “I run a company and you’re trying to have gravitas when you’re a CEO. I was a little bit like, ‘Is it a bad idea to participate in an underwear modelling shoot?'” 
“But it’s a feminist company…and I think it’s so important to support companies that are doing work like that. That overshadowed any of my concerns.”

These women are clearly not just models, but willing participants in whatever this is trying to say.

Adrants quotes Dear Kate CEO, Julie Sygiel: "I think a lot of traditional lingerie photo shoots depict women as simply standing there looking sexy. They're not always in a position of power and control. In our photo shoots it's important to portray women who are active and ambitious. They're not just standing around waiting for things to happen."

However the blog's author, Steve Hall, counters:
Hey, I'm all for women wearing underwear and lingerie as often as possible but when so many are doing so much to battle stigmas and stereotypes relating to the perception of women in the workplace -- and the world at large, this just smacks the face of logic.
I'm not so sure, though. While this could have come off like the European Union's appalling "Science: It's a Girl Thing" video, it just doesn't feel the same. The photos are contrived, sure, and even a little silly. But SOMEONE has to make and model underwear for women. Why not use the opportunity to also demonstrate and inspire female leadership in business and technology?

All images via Dear Kate

It's not really up to me to decide if this is good or bad for women overall, because I'm not a woman. In my opinion, this campaign doesn't feel degrading or objectifying. But I urge women readers to weigh in.


  1. As a tech-savvy lady, I appreciate this campaign and do not feel it objectifies or exploits women. It's representing these women for who they really are, not just as living Malibu Staceys like in most lingerie ads.

  2. They don't feel sexualized. They may be standing around in underwear, but they don't really have that "I'm a hot person who's been posed here and instructed to stand and look like I have sex on the brain." vibe going on. The way they stand or sit, the expressions on their faces, the placement of their arms and the angles of their heads etc. all reflect hints of personality, sometimes perhaps amusement or awkwardness at the shoot. They look like regular people rather than people who've been prepped and posed for the singular purpose of bringing to mind a sexy, aroused object of desire. And that is immensely endearing and relatable. They also look fairly comfortable and relaxed, which is rare in the world of catalogues and models.
    Not that I don't appreciate the men and women who look sexy for a living, but I like this too. I usually look at lingerie catalogues and think "Oh... that looks good. But if I had that, it'd be a pain to wear and maintain in good condition." but this series makes me think "Huh, that looks comfy and practical and cute. I'd be interested in buying that."
    There's a place for sexed up lingerie, but that's really only within a very limited context of interaction. It's nice to know that somebody's paying attention to providing something that's not dowdy but lets normal people do the things they normally do without discomfort.