Able to perfectly control a range of tones, from the loping and odd, to the heartfelt and raw, acclaimed director Kyra Bartley has an uncanny ability to capture those snatches of quiet grace that most would overlook entirely – a child’s first heartbeat, the gust of wind before a fire. You might not have noticed that moment before everything changed. But Kyra Bartley did.
Kyra Bartley Talks ‘Losing Lena’ Via LBB
FINCH's Kyra Bartley On Gender And Tech
Losing Lena, the acclaimed documentary by FINCH’s Kyra Bartley, speaks aloud the unspoken: tech has a serious gender problem. That issue is not easily accounted for. It’s a deep problem, which results in young women failing to consider tech as a pathway for future work.
Many tech companies have unequal and harmful hiring practices. Work cultures are rife with misogyny, discrimination, and subtle forms of othering.
In Losing Lena, Bartley examines these disparate issues through the lens of one of the tech industry’s unseen, unwilling icons — Lena, the ’70s Playboy centrefold whose gently smiling face is the most-used test image in the world.
It was a group of men — coders at the University of Southern California — who, in the early ’70s who picked Lena as the test image, and since then, her visage has popped up on computer screens around the globe.
Bartley made Losing Lena, in part, to encourage those in tech to move away from using Lena’s image, and to embrace a truly gender diverse approach to the digital world.
But the more the project unfurled, the more that Lena became just the backdrop, a means of examining a systemic issue in desperate need of true systemic change.
“As we talked to women and men around the world and got a more nuanced understanding of the issues, the focus shifted from being a story about the past – the repercussions of the Lena image, and the various ways women have been sidelined – to positioning it as a cautionary tale for the future,” Bartley has explained in conversation with Little Black Book‘s Adam Bennett.
“I wanted to highlight the ability of small actions to radically change the path forward (for both good and bad) and, as we become increasingly more reliant on tech to run our lives, how vital it is that the teams of people developing it are truly reflective of the diverse world they service.”
Read the full interview with Bennett online here.