I’m calling Mae Jemison. And then I’m calling former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. And if that doesn’t work, I’m calling any of a number of outstanding women leaders in Computer Science…. Sure women still lag in jobs in Computer Science (only 22% of all Computer Science degrees when to women in 2004-2005 according to the NYTimes), but women still account for over 38% of all technology spending.
My immediate and visceral indignation at the sight of this ad reminded me a little bit of the ladies who used to take pictures of their neighbors’ trash at 5 in the morning to bring as evidence and complaint to public hearings, as in, “if I ever get to a point where I have nothing better to do than take pictures of my neighbors’ trash at 5 am, just shoot me.” In other words, while the ad, published in this week’s People Magazine, screams a condescending “don’t you worry your pretty little head, us big smart scientists will take care of everything,” it is fairly innocuous in the bigger picture of world problems to get really upset about.
Or is it? Isn’t the argument (that would be my argument) that images in popular media/advertising perpetuate stereotypes? Hmm, not willing to let it slide, I thought, let me test this out on my ever willing, poor 8-year-old son, Dillon.
“Dillon,” I started, placing the ad on the counter before him. “What’s wrong with this ad. Wait,” I said out loud, “I shouldn’t influence you. What do you notice about this ad?”
“Um, nothing?” he answered, clearly looking for a little more guidance. “I don’t get it?”
“Let me try another question. Are there more women or men scientists in the world?”
“Women,” he answered without hestitation. Go Dillon!
“Great, now, how many women scientists are in the picture?”
“None!” And then he paused. “Actually, the first thing I noticed was that he’s Hispanic and he’s African American,” he said pointing to two of the scientists.
So there are two points here: One is that they did such a great job on cultural diversity, so how come Intel had such a hard time ‘imagining’ a woman computer engineer? (and why is the woman in the front dressed like Jane Fonda?)
The second point (a la the “See Baby Discriminate” article in Newsweek last week), is that there are conversation starters about race, difference, ability and more all around us every day. Of course I obsess that I am passing along my own unconscious bias to my child, but we both learn by talking and challenging our beliefs.
Why wait until there’s an uncomfortable moment, when you can build and teach langauge to confront prejudice, bias, and discrimination every day?
I don’t see the discrimination in that ad, actually. Or, if anything, knowing Intel (and having grown up quite close to one of their campuses), there should be be another South Indian instead of two white people.
Frankly, the type of people this ad is talking about (the type of people who do “their workout”) are all PhDs in computer science or electronic engineering. About 20% of compsci PhDs currently graduating are women. The type of people who get hired at intel to do their tech development almost always have a few years of employment under their belt, so go back *at least* to the late 1990s for graduation rates in compsci programs, and you get maybe 15% women. And that’s excluding all of the very intelligent H1Bs Intel hires – which are almost all male, given the even more skewed gender ratios in compsci programs in places like India and China.
So, really, what you have is an ad that is pretty closely depicting the actual characteristics of their employees. Like I said at the beginning, they should probably have one more South Indian instead of one of those white men – but given that the ad is being pitched to mainstream America, I’m not surprised that they wanted two white guys in there.
Thanks GoriGirl…as a marketer, I never count on being so fact based…it’s all about impressions!
But, from your confirmation that the image is an accurate reflection of what it looks like inside Intel TODAY, then it’s just a bad ad, because the call to action is to visit their website, http://www.sponsorsoftomorrow.com.
In fact, their own headline once you go to the site (which, by the way is full of professional women!) is “Today is so Yesterday.” So showing women in 80’s exercise garb and an all male workforce (maybe we could compromise by having the addtional South Indian be a woman?)is not, to me the way to reflect Intel as a leader of innovation for tomorrow.
I suppose it’s the contrast that gets me–women engaging in activity that is body/beauty focused (I know, there’s a man there) and the men the one’s doing the ‘real work.’
See, I don’t see that distinction (body/beauty vs “real work”) at all in these ads. I see it as a “regular people” vs. “geeks & nerds”. I actually really love these ads, since they speak to the geek in me.
And I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of professional women working at Intel – there are! But they don’t work on the really innovative stuff that comes out of Intel. That work is done by computer scientists – and there are just way more men in that field than women. Thus, it’s reasonable to show fewer men in the bottom image.
Finally, labor dept stats show that more women than men are likely to participate in activities traditionally considered “working out” – things like aerobics, as pictured, and also yoga, walking, cardiovascular equipment, etc (altho men have higher percentages in running and weight-lifting).
Being upset because an ad shows reality strikes me as rather silly.
Like I said, in the scope of world problems, it’s very innocuous, but it did strike a chord.
I do love the different perspective you provide from being an ‘insider.’ Plus, technically, based on the labor dept. exercise stats you provide (thanks), it is implied that the women are smart!
Okay, I go too deep. I do like the overall campaign, and enjoyed the link to the Rock Star versions. Thank for sharing that.