I work in the field of optics, meaning that my clients ask our company to design systems ranging from complex lenses to DNA analyzers to various video game technologies. Just as we all get catalogs from, say, Crate & Barrel at home, engineers in optics get catalogs like Edmund Optics or Thor (or whatever) at work. Flip through the pages, and you'll see hundreds of lenses, filters, cameras, lasers, ... :
An obviously very sexy page of lenses
Around 2005, I started to notice that the catalog cover for Edmund Optics was somehow becoming increasingly... how shall we say... sexualized. What used to be a bunch of lenses and a fiber optic would next be a few lenses and an attractive model. A few years later, and (maybe it's just my eagle eye) the model definitely became the emphasis of the cover.
Okay, fine. Attractive models to sell stuff to any customer base, including techies, isn't new. It certainly doesn't help the ongoing mission of Bring More Women Into Science, but I suppose it is in line with common practice, even if you find it objectionable.
Now - Call me prude, but in my opinion Edmund took a bit of a bigger step into Objectification Land with this season's catalog:
C'mon, Edmund, really? Did we have to bring out cartoon superhero D-cup woman?
As my friends will attest, I might be just as blind as the next typical guy when it comes to spotting and complaining about gender stereotypes. But doesn't this seem to cross the line for you? I wonder how the many women who work in optics will react to this, as it's a field as yet uncontaminated by sales tactics like these. Not like it would have excused the artwork, but optics is certainly not an all-men's club.
I will at least accept the flattery that Edmund's catalog is now using a cartoon-bubble motif of "Project deadline looming - what to do now???"-type art, especially as Optics for Hire used it at last year's Photonics West. And we did it without the inflatable model. (Though I must say my CEO and I look dapper in suits.)
Then again, if their marketing department's goal was to get people talking, well, I guess it worked.
Next time, how about choosing any of 100 motivational things - maybe even non misogynistic things - to get people talking?