After a peek at an IT girls calendar, Secret CIO thinks the Middle East could do better

If an IT girls calendar, such as the one launched in Australia last month, can cause a global rumpus, imagine what a Middle East IT girls calendar would cause?

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By  Secret CIO Published  August 31, 2006

If an IT girls calendar, such as the one launched in Australia last month, can cause a global rumpus, imagine what a Middle East IT girls calendar would cause? OK, I know it will never work, but I'd certainly like to challenge someone to come up with a better idea for attracting women to our industry.

That was the motivation for Australia's Screen Goddess IT Calendar. Its web site: scored 3.5 million hits within a single 24 hour period. These came from about 80,000 unique visitors.

It had its detractors including the Australian Computer Society and a few cranks who decided to carry out denial of service attacks on the site.

The calendar featured some of the country's top female IT managers and IT players - including CEOs - ranging in age from their early 20s to mid-50s.

They posed as movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Nicole Kidman.

OK, some - well, possibly one - of the poses might have been deemed a bit salacious by a few. But, I would argue, they are no more so than many of the cover shots of numerous magazines that can be found on most newsstands in the Middle East on any given day. Also, they were all quite beautiful women, but that wasn't the point, say the organisers.

Now, before she who must be obeyed stops me writing any more and starts accusing me of being a raging male chauvinist, let me just say that some of the leading feminists in Australia - a country not renowned for tolerating male chauvinism of any kind - put their comely shoulders behind the cause.

The project also had the backing of Queensland's male Minister for IT Policy, who is reported as saying the IT Screen Goddess calendar is an initiative that will help attract more women to the industry. ”Each of the models has contributed a biography that details their career in IT, and some of the experiences they've had - these are the kind of positive stories we need to get out there," he said.

As the organisers of the project said: the whole initiative was more than just a calendar. It is a multi-dimensional project that included changing the geeky image some women have of IT. All proceeds from the calendar are to be used to help non-profit groups that help encourage females to take up technology studies and to enter technology careers.

This gets us back to the region. We're reading an increasing number of reports that the region's future prosperity is dependent on growing its IT skills, but that currently looks like it's going to be an uphill challenge.

So here's an answer. Let’s take a leaf out of the kangaroo huggers' book and come up with a novel way of attracting more women to the IT industry. It's not going to be easy I know, but let's see some ideas start to flow.

I see from recent issues of ACN that the publication is doing its bit to raise the awareness of the diversity of woment in IT and reinforce the point that women can and do reach the IT heights. February's cover carried Sue Evans, head of IS at National Bank of Dubai, and last month Charissa Kanbar, Wild Wadi's IT manager, was featured.

I'll be encouraging the editor to carry more such stories. In the meantime I'm sure he'd welcome your input as well.

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