We’re all in favor of promoting nuclear energy in creative ways, but we have to admit to mixed feelings about the Miss Atom contest (in Russian).
Russia's nuclear industry has been trying to change all that in recent years, rolling out the annual Miss Atom Beauty Contest. The competition is open only to women who work in the nuclear world and, as the Web site describes, "Miss Atom is the first and only industry-wide, Web-based project for nuclear belles."
The goal of the competition? To show that smart women working with hazardous materials look pretty good when they're not wearing chemical protection suits.
Er, huh? (This bit came from ABC News).
The Russian site has over 200 entrants, all self-submitted, so this plays reasonably well, and anyone can vote. While American industry now shies away from beauty contests as a viable way to promote themselves (and perhaps Russian industries do, too – this is an online effort, run by a portal for nuclear news), it’s not as though Americans are innocent of finding ways to put pretty women in swimsuits. And firemen and such certainly don’t mind showing the results of their gym routines if charity is involved. Miss Atom is a bit retrograde from our perspective, but really, it’s a cultural wash.
Nonetheless, it is a bit disappointing for a country that has gone considerably further then ours in terms of gender equality – at the very least, where’s the beef? We’re sure some of the guys “look pretty good when they're not wearing chemical protection suits.” But maybe that’s another contest.
Needless to say, the competition has received some negative press outside Russia, particularly from those who believe it is sexist and demeaning to female workers. [Ilya] Platonov [the organizer of Miss Atom] vehemently denies such accusations.
As well he might. The Moscow Times has more on Russian beauty contests, including Miss Atom, here. While we hoped for some sociological distinction, you could swap out the local details and publish this story in any American newspaper.
There she is, Miss Atom. There she is, your ideal; With so many beauties; She'll take the town by storm.