Frequently Asked Questions
Where did the idea come from?
Years of working in a voluntary capacity on traditional projects and programs and seeing that, whilst the projects all had their merits and impacts to individuals on the day, in the medium to long term the impact was not sustainable.
One contributing factor was that girls and women positively impacted by traditional programs tended to go out and speak to peer groups and family, who were not across the broader industry aspects and the initial enthusiasm of the girls/woman faded as the peer groups and family were not aware of the value of a career in IT.
Thus dawned a realisation that there is a need to get the messages about the IT industry out to broader groups than those who attend intervention programs. Research regularly indicates that one of the greatest barriers to entry to the industry is the "nerd" perception.
Our aim is to smash that perception, resulting in a broader look at the industry.
Why did models select certain movies/images?
It was the models' selection. Mostly the specific shots were chosen because the models either admire the actress or the character they played, or expresses who they are or who they want to be (a good role model, one of their favourite movies/actresses, a tribute to the actress).
In some instances, on consultation with makeup and photographer, alternative images were suggested. However it was the models' decision to select which image was the final image.
Isn't it demeaning to treat women as sex objects?
The Screen Goddess IT Calendar has already stirred controversy even before the calendar was printed, with print and digital media stories as well as blogs springing up daily.
While it's purpose is to promote IT study and careers for girls and women, has it sabotaged its own aims by merely pandering to and encouraging a view that women are just sex objects, not talented people who should be judged on their achievements?
Categorically I, Sonja Bernhardt, the screen goddess innovator, say no, it has not.
Every woman in the calendar is an intelligent thinking person who is accomplished and has made their own decision to participate based on their confidence and comfort levels, combined with passion and pride for supporting ICT careers.
Remember, the bottom line of this initiative is to raise much needed funds to run more intervention projects and programs and to have a sustained impact on attracting, retaining and promoting women into technology careers.
The facts are that to be a commercial success the calendar has to be visible, attractive and popular. Otherwise it will raise neither awareness nor the money to invest in projects to encourage women into technology careers.
Movies and media are constantly focusing on actresses and models who are attractive and scantily dressed and magazines for teenage girls devote pages to makeup and attracting boys. The "beautiful people" are, like it or not, seen as role models and women to admire. And it is not the media setting public taste - it is the interests of the public driving the media. And if that is what people want, is it better that the role models they see are limited to actresses and models - or should they see that a career in technology does not mean being a frumpy geek who can't get a boyfriend, but can be interesting, challenging, exciting and glamorous?
Is there anything wrong with admiring beauty? It is people's minds that drive achievement, but we are not disembodied brains, we are integrated beings of mind and body. It is part of human nature to admire beauty in other people, it is human nature to be sexual beings, it is human nature to enjoy sensuality, it is human nature to seek and esteem the best people can be in all things. And we do not despise human nature, we celebrate it.
On one of the most famous Screen Goddesses of them all, female novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand wrote that Marilyn Monroe projected "the joyous self-flaunting of a child or a kitten who is happy to display its own attractiveness as the best gift it can offer the world and who expects to be admired for it, not hurt." Our Screen Goddesses project that and more. They are women who are accomplished in their careers, confident in themselves, proud of who they are and not afraid to expose themselves to controversy in order to achieve their values. They are living embodiments of the principle that nothing in their sex prevents women from achieving their goals in any chosen field: without sacrificing their femininity, sensuality or any other part of themselves.
Don't you think using images like that merely encourages stereotypes of women as sex objects?
Sex is a fact of reality that most people actually approve of! But sensual images can only encourage stereotypes if people think that women can be viewed as either thinking beings or sexual beings, not both - and that is exactly the kind of thinking that needs ending. It will be obvious to anyone who actually looks at the calendar that it portrays women as integrated people, who are justifiably proud of their minds, accomplishments and bodies - as they should be.
Don't you think this will attract more men than women to the industry?
Raising awareness of the industry and attracting more people to the industry is a bonus - whatever gender. Don't forget an underlying objective is to utilize the profits from sales to run more 'traditional' projects and programs that are specifically targeting girls and women. Hence regardless of who purchases the calendar or is first attracted to the industry the sustained impact is to attract more females.
Do you think if a man came up with this idea it would be accepted?
Well, there would be an even bigger outcry from people who think it objectifies women. But we don't think that's valid. The calendar does not objectify women and the reasons behind it are valid whoever thought them up. Different people might have different values and prejudices, but reason and reality are the same whatever your sex, age or nationality.
How much and where will profits be distributed?
100% of profits are being distributed to active "women and girls in IT" groups/associations to projects and activities aimed at encouraging increased uptake of technology studies and careers.
Typical groups expected to receive funds include:
Whilst creativity is encouraged it is expected that the funds would be used for role modeling, career expos, mentoring, board readiness, workshops, regional tour type projects.
Who do you think will respond to the calendar and how?
We hope people's response will be to buy it! The more sales we get, the more profits and 100% of the profits are being donated back to the industry so that more traditional projects and programs can be run, therefore the more we can do to encourage girls and women to look at technology careers.
We think both men and women who see women as complete people with both minds and bodies, and don't see any conflict in that, will appreciate the calendar for its celebration of real women with real careers done in a fun, interesting, artistic and sensual way.
Some people might object to using sensual images, but we think they need to examine their own assumptions, especially why they think the female body is something that should be hidden, or why they think there is any conflict between women's brains and their sensuality. We are integrated beings. Our brains are not divorced from our bodies, from our lives.
Are the models geeks?
YES. However the models are not nerds. We are proud to be geeks if being geek means having an excellent job in IT and being a technologist who uses technology in interesting and creative ways - then, YES, we are geeks and proud of it!