Everything About This “Beautiful Woman Soldering” Stock Photo Is Wrong

Mike Senese

Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with remote-control aircraft, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

Follow @msenese

120 Articles

By Mike Senese

Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with remote-control aircraft, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

Follow @msenese

120 Articles

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Stock photography is a big field, and with it comes some nice photos, but also some serious stinkers.

Case in point, especially for Makers: the photo below. In it, a woman is performing a delicate operation on a circuit board using a soldering iron. At first glance, cool, nice photo. But if you hone in, you realize there’s something downright frightening about her soldering technique. Rather than holding the iron by its insulated handle, this woman is grabbing onto the heated element, which if turned on, would be at a bit over 600ºF. As much as any of us have wanted to choke up on our irons for more precise control, you would be dealing with nasty burns for quite some time if you were to grip your iron like this.

There’s also the issue of the woman soldering the component side of the board, rather than its back side where the soldered joints are. Or maybe its a surface-mount board — but who in a lab like that would be using a $10 25W RadioShack soldering iron (which I own, incidentally) on a surface mount board? Or on any board, for that matter?

stock-photo-beautiful-woman-repair-soldering-a-printed-circuit-board-204001492

“Beautiful woman repair soldering a printed circuit board” by Rob Byron. Shutterstock Image ID: 204001492

But the biggest irker of all is the photo’s title: “Beautiful woman repair soldering a printed circuit board.” I understand how marketing works, but I still lament that we continue to point out the physical attributes of a person doing an activity. In this case, it says that the woman is an anomaly, rather than just a woman doing something that women do all the time. Something we see through incredible female electronics superstars like Limor, Becky, Star, Lenore, and all the others who represent this field. All know damn well how to hold a soldering iron. Insinuating that women don’t know how to solder perpetuates a gender divide that we should have overcome long ago.

Plus, we all know that anyone soldering electronics is beautiful, so this is just plain redundant.

Two other photos of wrongly held soldering irons have surfaced along with this one, one of another woman, and one featuring a man (who happens to be a man of color). So the stock photography world may not be insinuating that it’s only women that are soldering-iron ignorant, but since the majority of soldering-iron stock photos feature men, having 2/3 of the “holding it wrong” examples be of women is pretty bad representation.

Photographers, you can do better. Step it up, and learn to solder while you’re at it. Come to Maker Faire, we’ll teach you.

(h/t Chris Weisbart/2BC)