Knowing Your Market

Today’s Guest Poster “Little Jim” is a masked IT professional and blogger

While the outside perception is that it is still a male domain (and indeed some segments of the industry are very much like a post office), within the IT industry female techos and IT managers are quite the norm. I know as I have spent the day chatting to them at a trade show demonstrating a company’s product.

However, with the prevalence of female IT employees and at a major trade show, one would think that IT vendors would have grown out of using provocatively dressed women to sell computer hardware.

Just near us was one vendor who decided that the stereotypical blonde in short pants would somehow enhance their sales pitch. Not too much further away, another vendor had two young ladies dressed up in police uniforms in a weird attempt to capture the IT fetish demographic (you’d be forgiven in thinking that those two had turned up at the wrong convention). And that was just in the immediate vicinity. A tour through the halls turned up more than a few vendors with young women in various forms of near dress as some sort of attraction.

As a male, the attitude of these vendors was demeaning and disappointing. Demeaning as it implies that all one had to do to sell a product to your average male IT professional is have a few scantily clad women draped over it.

Disappointing at it seems with what progress has been made in the industry, it seems there are those who see the only role for women in IT is to represent stereotypical male fantasies at trade shows. Given the number of female IT professionals on the floor, the antediluvian marketing approach of some vendors will have cost them more than a few deals.

Categories: economics, gender & feminism


5 replies

  1. Don’t tell us; tell them.
    The general impression amongst men in the business is that men find trade show cheesecake (and if that’s not a good band name, I don’t know what is) appealing, and women tune it out. If they’re wrong, tell them so. Fill out a comment card, or better still, pull one of the booth droids aside and explain why you’re not discussing a deal with them. They’ll clue in eventually.
    Back in the early ’80s, when I was a small geekling, I used to go to Comdex with my mom, who was an IT pro before anyone came up with the term IT.
    Some of the vendors, mostly those from Japanese firms, wouldn’t deal with women at all — they literally, physically turned their backs. Mom would then say, loudly, “Well, maybe your competitors will be more interested in Georgia State’s contracts.” That tended to get their attention.
    Money talks. Give it a voice.

  2. Unfortunately, in this case I’m pretty sure that Little Jim was a competing booth droid. The other booth operators aren’t likely to listen to him.

  3. Notgruntled, as tig points out I’m a booth droid and for various reason I need to be icognito. If I was a civvie needing to buy kit it would be a different story.

  4. Sounds like the stereotype of IT dudes not getting out much and only having internet girlfriends is still going strong too.

  5. I’m so glad this topic has been brought up somewhere. A recent conversation with my IT-worker/video game-playing boyfriend left me absolutely horrified to learn that the use of “booth babes” is so prevalent at conventions and trade shows. This is a practice that implies that 1)the only customers worth advertising to are straight men and 2)aforementioned straight men in technology-related fields will actually be enticed into trying products based on the presence of scantily-clad female “attractions”. Ugh. Thanks for the post.

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