There are lots of reasons as to why this might be, including, but not limited to:
- The lack of games on the computer that appeal to girls (with 'The Sims' and some of the new PlayStation titles things are changing, slowly)
- Maths and computing teachers generally being male
- A lack of visible female role models -- we hear about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but only rarely about Helen Greiner and Grace Hopper
- The bad attitude of some male computing instructors and students toward their female students/colleagues.
The third company plays on a local cultural legend, where the North Island of New Zealand was fished up by a young man sitting in the canoe that is the South Island. In this advertisement, a young caucasian lad hauls New York, Paris and London from the sea on a length of rope, "harnessing technology". Would it have been so harmful to use an image of a young girl drawing her friends closer and tying the lines of communication? I guess so.
This ad is far from the most offensive to my geeky sensibilities, however. The local telecommunication giant advertises their ISP arm, "Xtra" with a team of stereotypical geeks called the xtra-ordinaries. These guys are a team of socially inept geeks that not only contribute to the suicidal tendencies of the young man mentioned above, but leave or role model or room for a young woman to see herself as part of the technology industry.
These guys are being promoted as the image of ocmputing by the major national carrier in the telecommunications industry. They magically appear in bedrooms at night, they drive around in a clapped out van, and they have nerdy names for each other. I'm fairly confident in my own person and in my choice of a career in computing, and these guys make me a little embarrassed to be associated with the profession. What hope do I have of doing the part of my job that is encouraging young women to take up a career in computing when this is the image they, their peers, and their parents see on TV every night?
As a partially publicly funded national carrier, I would hope that this doesn't last too long, and that Telecom is asked to at least make a hot-but-nerdy-girl xtra-ordinary too. We're short if IT professionals in this country, and having one girl xtra-ordinary could make life easier for everyone who might want to pursue a career in computing. No doubt, however, Telecom thinks that poking fun at geeks is inordinately clever, and the series of ads will continue for years.