A Controversial Ad Shows Female Tech Founders And CEOs Coding In Their Underwear

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With its brand-new Ada Collection — named after Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer—underwear company Dear Kate is taking a rather non-traditional approach to advertising.

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The lookbook for the lingerie line shows six prominent women in tech posing with computers and coding while undressed down to their underwear.

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The photos are meant to be empowering, complete with quotes from the women about their roles in the tech industry.

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Dear Kate founder and CEO Julie Sygiel said she intentionally placed the models in the workplace. The shoot took place in Refinery29’s New York City headquarters.

“I think a lot of traditional lingerie photo shoots depict women as simply standing there looking sexy. They’re not always in a position of power and control,” Sygiel said to Time. “In our photo shoots it’s important to portray women who are active and ambitious. They’re not just standing around waiting for things to happen.”

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But some people have found the campaign offensive, with feminists arguing that the photos place emphasis on looks in an industry that is already fraught with sexual abuse and misogyny.

“Posing in your underwear undermines the message that you aim to be taken seriously as a technologist,” Elissa Shevinsky, CEO of Glimpse Labs, said to Time.

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On the other hand, Skillcrush cofounder and CEO Adda Birnir said she didn’t think twice when Dear Kate asked her to participate in the photo shoot.

“I think it’s an amazing company that has a truly integrated, feminist point of view, and I wanted to help support them in everything they do,” Birnir said to Business Insider.

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She calls the controversy interesting and surprising, adding that it creates a conversation that is important to have.

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Rebecca Garcia, founder of GeekGirlWeb, didn’t expect the shoot to be so controversial.

“I think highlighting women and their careers, their background stories like Dear Kate has done is important for women to see others like themselves that they can relate to,” she said to Business Insider. “It’s body positive and inspiring and I’m excited to be a part of the lookbook.”

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“I’m friends and acquaintances with several women who have been affected by sexism in tech,” she said. “I have faced discrimination, ageism, not being taken seriously as a programmer, and I think this shoot helps to normalize the idea that women can be comfortable in their own skin and be in technology.”

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