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Techies ponder: Do you think I'm sexy?

Say it ain't so: A list of the sexiest jobs excludes coders and chip chaps but mentions interior designers, CPAs and chefs.

Have computer pros lost their mojo?

If they ever had Austin Powers' prized trait, that certainly is the implication of a recent report on the "sexiest jobs" by Salary.com. Techies not only failed to appear in the list of the top 10, but they didn't even merit an honorary mention in the report--as did chefs, certified public accountants and dental hygienists.

Some in the technology arena beg to differ with Salary.com about the relative sexiness of those who work with software, hardware and the like.

"Every one of my boyfriends has been an engineer or a scientist."
--Helen Greiner
Co-founder, iRobot

Helen Greiner, co-founder of robotics company iRobot, sees nothing lacking in techie men. "I like smart guys," she said. "Every one of my boyfriends has been an engineer or a scientist."

Randall Carter, a software developer at systems integration company Ciber, agrees that brains make the techie attractive. "If being intellectual is sexy, then yes, it would have to be considered a sexy-type profession," he said.

The nearly 5,000 respondents to Salary.com's poll, though--who clearly pay attention to bookstore calendars sitting next to that of the and might have watched the Trista season of ABC's "The Bachelorette"--didn't seem to share these views. Firefighters claimed the top spot on the list of the sexiest jobs, followed by flight attendants and chief executive officers.

"It's hard to be sexy sitting on your buns all day long."
--Richard Spitz
Senior client partner,
Korn-Ferry International

Perhaps surprisingly, reporters and interior designers also made the list. Salary.com speculated that TV shows gave those professions a boost. "The recent 'sexiness' of these jobs may be fueled by the popularity of TV's Debra Messing, who plays interior designer Grace Adler on 'Will and Grace,' and Sarah Jessica Parker, newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw on 'Sex and the City,'" the company said on its Web site.

"We certainly aren't macho," Tim Lister, a software development consultant at The Atlantic Systems Guild, remarked when comparing those in his profession to the stereotypical firefighter. "If we had the firefighters vs. programmers Olympics, I'm sure we'd lose."

"It's hard to be sexy sitting on your buns all day long," added Richard Spitz, who heads the technology practice of executive recruitment firm Korn-Ferry International.

Ciber's Carter said computer pros get pidgeonholed as male nerds: "You know, the guy with the pocket protector."

It's true that the computer field has long been male-centric--a trend that worries many. But it's not accurate that all engineering or science types are antisocial or unathletic or uninterested in the world beyond their keyboards, iRobot's Greiner said. "I'd like to change that (geek) perception," she said. "It's one of the reasons girls in particular don't go into the field."

Greiner is doing something to change the perception, besides serving as a rare female leader in the technology world. The photogenic executive says she has appeared in Lincoln Navigator ads and has modeled for apparel company Lands' End.

Spitz of Korn-Ferry said techies were hot during the dot-com boom and that their allure will return. "Computer professionals have been, and will be again, among the sexiest professions because they're charting our future," he said. "That's the greatest power, (and) power is sexy."