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Silicon Valley Is Sneaking Models into This Year’s Holiday Parties (bloomberg.com)
143 points by coloneltcb 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 215 comments

Yes, this practice of models at parties brings back memories. In 2000, a very well-known enterprise software company (Northeast not Silicon Valley) hosted a conference for customers and had a night party for the attendees. The most memorable thing I remember was the group of extremely pretty women on roller skates mingling with the crowd. E.g. they'd skate up and ask random attendees, "Hey where are you from? Are you enjoying the party?"

It's very strange how a logical brain processes what's happening. One the one hand, your rational brain says they're just paid to be there to loosen up the crowd and their smiles and questions to the attendees are fake. On the other hand, your emotional brain doesn't care and you smile and laugh back anyway. It's like the Disney World effect. You know it's a facade but enjoy yourself anyway!

That's great for the (straight) men. But it's extremely uncomfortable for the female employees at the events, who are now not only spending the evening outnumbered by male colleagues at an alcohol-lubricated event, they're now spending the evening outnumbered by male colleagues who are ogling other women who are there explicitly as objects of sexual attraction (even if it's deflected into "engaging them in conversation", that's clearly the angle they're intended to appeal to, or there wouldn't be a requirement that they be young and attractive).

It's one step short of holding your holiday party at a strip club. Not quite as crass, but uncomfortable and marginalizing for the women for similar reasons.

>, they're now spending the evening outnumbered by male colleagues who are ogling other women who are there explicitly as objects of sexual attraction

Unfortunately, it was my limited recollection of the event that's prompted some replies about it marginalizing female employees. To clarify, it was a vendor conference and not a company party. Employees from different companies would attend. (Think of it like Google I/O or Apple WWDC Developers Conference).

There were very likely male models there as well for the female attendees to interact with. I just happened to be standing with a group of all males so understandably, the only models that skated up to us were female. My single-gender sample set distorts what I remember and how I tell the story which then gives you, the reader, the wrong impression that it was quasi strip club event.

I'd have to seek out some female colleagues who went to the same 2000 conference and ask them what they thought of it. I'm curious if they'd reply that they were disgusted and outraged by the male models there. I really don't know. (Or similarly, we can ask today's female employees at SV companies what they thought of male models at recent corporate parties.)

I'm not suggesting that it's a quasi strip club environment or nearly as egregious a violation as taking employees to a strip club. Just that it's along the same spectrum of making beautiful women available for men's enjoyment and that that's what causes it to be a source of discomfort.

And if my company hired a bunch of gorgeous models - most female but a few male - for our holiday party, I would be outraged. The male models would probably make me uncomfortable first off for the same reasons some male commenters here say they're demeaned by the assumption that their company needs to hire people to speak to them.

But I'd also interpret the presence of the male models not as a way to make the female attendees happy directly (unless it was a horribly tone-deaf attempt by a man) - I'd probably interpret the choice to have them present as a way to excuse the presence of the female models in an attempt to titillate the men. "Oh, no, we're not objectifying women for the sake of our male employees! See? We have male models here too!"

These 2 comments looked like they contradict each other:

1) ">It's one step short of holding your holiday party at a strip club."

2) ">I'm not suggesting it's [...] nearly as egregious a violation as taking employees to a strip club."

The "one step" looks like "nearly" to me which is why I tried to clarify the nature of the interactions.

If any _hint_ of "strip club" is even mentioned in the replies to my anecdote about the software conference party, that's my fault for describing it poorly.

See my other comment about this.[1] Are female guests at Disney describing Gaston as "one step" removed from a "male strip club"? I don't think so and that's the type of platonic vibe I was trying to portray in my conference anecdote. Nevertheless, people still get the wrong impression that the party models were there to act as a sexual tease. (The "fake friends" models mentioned in the Bloomberg article may be instructed to act in a more sexually provocative manner but my anecdote wasn't about them.)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15877739

I'm not responding just to your comment. I'm also responding to the concept in general of hiring models for a party.

If the intent were solely to entertain rather than to titillate, they would be hiring comedians rather than models.

Is it explicitly sexualized and objectifying like a strip club? No. Is it implicitly sexualized and objectifying? Hell yes.

>If the intent were solely to entertain rather than to titillate, they would be hiring comedians rather than models.

I don't think it clarifies the discussion by labeling them "comedians" XOR "models". It's impossible to disentangle the gender/beauty or its effects from the role being played. It's an unavoidable blend of multiple roles.

In other words, it would be naive to think there is zero sexual objectification of Disney Gaston models at the park. Disney is not hiring androgynous robots so we have to be realistic here. The men have to be "eye candy" to some degree to get the job.

Likewise, even if a company tried to hire "entertainers" for a work party and those entertainers happened to also look beautiful, you will still have objectification. Is the model hired for a corporaty party to hang coats a "coat valet" or a "model"? It's not what you label them; it's the effects.

If attraction weren't part of what's trying to be accomplished, attractiveness wouldn't be a qualification. The whole point of hiring a model is that they're attractive.

> that's clearly the angle they're intended to appeal to, or there wouldn't be a requirement that they be young and attractive).

Why? That's super judgemental of you. There is no "clear" angle that a young and attractive person is necessarily an object of sexual attraction, except in your own imagination.

It's not judgemental, just obvious if you have any insight into cis-males. I single them out only because I am one, and your comment comes off as hopelessly naive.

All attractive people are objects of sexual attraction. It's what you do with that that separates the creeps from everybody else.

>It's not judgemental, just obvious if you have any insight into cis-males.

So its _my_ fault for _not_ stereotyping? Amazing.

Did I say that any given person is attracted to them? I'm saying that they're hired because they're sexually attractive. Because someone thinks that speaking to a sexually attractive woman will be gratifying to young males, especially those stereotyped as socially awkward.

>I'm saying that they're hired because they're sexually attractive.

The article just mentions being attractive. It also mentions other clients who hire models to dress up in costumes, and among other things to create a "fun" (whatever that means) atmosphere. The article also mentions an agency which insists on having the models be assigned specific tasks (coat checkers, servers), etc. People strongly associate attractive people with parties/partying/celebrity culture/fun/etc for various reasons. Its sort of like using a person with spectacles/drab clothes/British accent to signal intelligence. In any event, introducing models into an audience filled with programmers, would greatly increase the diversity of the party. Maybe the models who themselves had negative stereotypes about "nerds" would see that they were fun people too. It cuts both ways.

>Because someone thinks that speaking to a sexually attractive woman will be gratifying to young males, especially those stereotyped as socially awkward.

Neither the article, nor the comment you replied to has put forth this idea.


My logical brain says "it's not 1950 anymore; the PR blow-black has the potential to be truly brutal."

My emotional brain says "This is horridly objectifying and super awkward."

>"it's not 1950 anymore; the PR blow-black has the potential to be truly brutal."

For that particular party, there definitely wasn't blowback because the next morning, everybody talked about how amazing it was. I think it caught everyone off guard because it was unexpected and it gave attendees happy memories. (Yes, maybe the attendees should have been morally outraged but I can only report how they actually responded and at that time, they thought it was a huge hit.)

It's been 17 years so maybe that company doesn't hire party models anymore.

>"This is horridly objectifying and super awkward."

That's a valid opinion but just to paint the picture better, the women were not dressed up as "Playboy bunnies". They were wearing regular shorts and a themed tshirt showing no cleavage. The interactions with the models would be similar to a kid interacting with Mickey Mouse at Disney. Also, there probably were male models on roller skates as well but I don't remember them for obvious reasons.

Probably, but SV engineers are not kids, and these women are not entertaining children in mickey costumes.

Seeing so many people defending this practice is really worrisome with regards to the lack of morals in SV.

>>"it's not 1950 anymore; the PR blow-black has the potential to be truly brutal."

> For that particular party, there definitely wasn't blowback

PR is bigger than just internal opinion. Witness: this article.

> The interactions with the models would be similar to a kid interacting with Mickey Mouse at Disney


> the women were not dressed up as "Playboy bunnies". They were wearing regular shorts and a themed tshirt showing no cleavage... Also, there probably were male models on roller skates as well but I don't remember them for obvious reasons.

At least we all eventually agree that the obvious is obvious.

>PR is bigger than just internal opinion. Witness: this article.

This particular article has an extra angle about models pretending to be friends of employees at a company party. I wasn't endorsing that.

I was relating a somewhat related story about models at a software conference. However, they were not pretending to be in relationships with anybody. They were there to be hosts with bubbly personalities and to schmooze the crowd.


I was not exaggerating. The conference models were not there to show skin; they were there to socialize. The conversations (regardless of it being artificial and scripted from the models) are not of a sexual nature. It's lightweight platonic chatting designed to loosen up the crowd.

Here are some videos showing the Disney character Garcon at the park. Not every Disney actor's face is hidden behind a mask:


Clicking on some of those videos should give an idea of how the models interact with guests. The men that Disney hires for that work are all beautiful male specimens. (Women would typically categorize them as "hunks" or "beefcakes".) However, the purpose is not for girls/daughters/mothers/women to grab their crotch or act out Magic Mike[1] fantasies. The Garcon actor is there to be funny and provide smiles.

The Garcon models are not allowed to exchange phone numbers with the park guests. There is no "let's meet up at Cinderella's castle" secret rendezvous after they show off their one arm pushups. So, if the women at the park don't get to engage with sexual foreplay at the park with Garcon, why does Disney only hire attractive men? Oy indeed.

The models at the software conference did similar work to the Garcon actors at Disney theme parks.

The reason you don't see public-relations blowback about the beautiful models at Disney is the same reason you don't see it about models at industry conferences.

On the other hand, the Bloomberg article about "models pretending to be friends of employees" is a whole different level of weirdness.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Mike


I take it there were no women on your team?

Sounds amazing. Wish my company treated us to this kind of delight!

My logical brain goes:

I bet these women are getting paid a pretty penny to go to some stupid party and mingle with the patrons. Probably get drinks and food on the house too. Lucky bastards!

There seems to be a fine line between slut shaming women for not conforming to some moral majority code of behavior and actual concern about objectification. Some seem to straddle the line trying to do both while claiming to only be standing on the good side.

Say what now? Why would you think they're being paid a pretty penny? Odds are they're doing it to scrape by, and would much prefer having the evening to spend with their friends and family rather than having to put on a charade.

No one is forcing them to do it. Anyone would much prefer to have an evening with their friends or family. But if they need the money, then it's a job. And it's probably a better job than most jobs.

Ahhh, the American Dream! "No one is forcing them to do it."

There's a plethora of well paid jobs out there that they could be doing instead but, for reasons unknown, they prefer to be under-dressed roller skating companions.

Well, on a low end they are making about $25/hour after agency fees.

On a high end they are walking away with a few thousand dollars.

On a really high end they just made your yearly salary in a day - there was if I recall correctly a bank in Russia that flew a dozen of currently reasonably well known models for its New Year's party.

Why should these women be denied the opportunity to do this job, supposing they want to do it?

That's not the problem anyone is having with this.

It seems like you're suggesting women should be free to do this, but men should be shamed for asking women to do it - which seems like a weird position to hold.

I can imagine some harm comes from this - e.g. an employee is mistaken for a model, or perhaps an employee is never mistaken for a model, but the magnitude of the harm doesn't seem so severe, and seems comparable to the benefit - the party is more fun.

I know why people have an intuitive dislike for this, it calls to mind paying for sex, sounds pathetic, and feels possibly misogynistic, but logically, I can't defend any of those positions myself.

I am suggesting that that is not the problem anyone is having with this. Nothing more, nothing less. The rest of your inferences are entirely wrong, if indeed you even replied to the correct comment. Nobody is complaining about the fact that if the job is offered, there are women who will take it, or implying that those women (or men) are in the wrong. That is simply not the problem people have with this.

Instead of speaking vaguely, and pretending you speak on behalf of everyone, why don't you clearly state what problem you are having with this?

I am not stating I have a problem with this. I am stating that is not the problem everyone else is having with this.

This doesn't seem that complicated to me. I am not sure how I could possibly make what I am saying any clearer.

As a possible diagnosis of the problem you are having, if you believe my first sentence says or is equivalent to "I don't have a problem with this", you have a fairly common reading comprehension problem where you read what you expect to have read, rather than what was actually said, and the problem you are having with what I wrote is your difficulty in fitting such a short point into your framework of what you expect to have read. I suggest spending some more time learning how to read what is there, rather than what you think is there, as you are missing out on one of the primary benefits of reading. That's not the only possible problem you've having with understanding such short, simple sentences, but it is likely enough to be worth calling out.

Nope. S/He’s saying women are free to work as models at a party, but employers shouldn’t hire women to be models at company events.

So it's only fine if a private individual hires models for their party?

That’s not what I said.


The set of all party throwers is not composed of private individuals plus employers. But now you’ve changed it to private parties, which would seem to include parties thrown by privately held companies. Maybe you should start by getting your terminology straight.

My point is that employees should not be subjected to employers hiring models to attend company events.

Then what is?

This may help you understand what people are saying about this and why they're upset: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15872605

Both ways too. When I see this sort of thing at a conference party or vendor thing, I think 'what do the organisers think we are, just rabid animals?' Its demeaning for all concerned

Oh you mean booth bunnies? It works all every time it is tried if a booth bunny knows what she is doing. That's why it keeps happening.

When my wife shows up as a part of the sales team the company always sells out of the product that they bring.

It’s kind of sexist too. I would like pretty male models to look at please.

From the article:

> At this year’s holiday parties, however, there’ll be a surprising influx of attractive women, and a few pretty men, mingling with the engineers. They’re being paid to.

There are good biological reasons why there isn't a popular Playgirl magazine. That is similar.

I don't enjoy it; it already feels like nobody ever smiles at or talks to me when they aren't getting paid to, why would I ever want that feeling to extend to social events?

Talk about a nightmare.

This is one of those aspects of American culture that make me shake my head. If you're not enjoying the party with your co-workers, then it's either because the party is not good or you don't have a sense of community with your co-workers (or a combination of both). If the majority of people who attend the party feel that way, then your company has a problem: either they don't know how to throw a party or there's no community at the office (or, again, a combination of both). You can't really solve that with "Disney World effect".

At my last company, I tended to avoid all company-designated events but would still every couple months arrange a Friday after work drinking get-together at some local bar. Work parties felt like (unpaid) work or requisite to fit in with the 'company culture' vs after work drinks where you could blow off some steam without consequences and actually bond.

This is fine. (I mean gender issues aside).

Because they are on 'roller skates' they are differentiated, and basically identifiable as 'hosts/hostesses'.

There's nothing wrong with hiring hosts for a party.

It's when they are mixed-in as guests it's cheezball.

Ugh... I find it disgusting...

The article is rubbish:

This happens in every industry where people make serious money. During the finance boom it happened in finance. Right the biotech boom it happened in biotech. Right now it is a tech boom, so it is happening in tech.

In this specific case the "models" are not the likes of Karolina Kurkova or the woman in the photo. At best they would be commercial models i.e. the ones that pose in clothes inside J.C. Penny during the holiday season.

It is also extremely unfortunate that the author of the piece allowed the agency owner to get away with a total puff piece - owners do not reject bookings from existing reasonably vetted clients because the clients request short skirts or plunging necklines ( of course it would be rejected if the client is hookers-and-blow.com ). If a legitimate company wanted two dwarfs to wrestle in jello for a holiday party, they would be found -- it just a matter of price. The price now is just higher. Most of the 'low-rent' market is in China (all over) where they are booked daily for nightclub appearances, 'high rent' in mostly in Moscow, RU.

P.S. Do notice that the agency CEO has a Russian name.

[Edit after the downvotes]: Here, let me google this for you:






Pathetic. The whole point is to celebrate with the employees and their families and recognize the hard work everyone has put in over the year. A stranger not connected to an employee would take away from that value.

If you want more women at the event, hire more women at the company and create a culture that encourages that.

"If you want more women at the event, hire more women at the company and create a culture that encourages that."

-- Yes, some magic wand will solve it?

If they are tech companies and engineers are the primary value drivers, and only 16% of CS grads are female, what kind of rock will they find balanced workforce?

Companies hire because they need people to feel a role, (eg. engineers, marketing, sales, hr... etc). If they need more engineers they have to deal with the workforce supply issues, where only 16% of applicants are female.

They are a business that need to build and sale products, and not a charity.

I live in NYC, and they have the opposite is here, most PR or fashion firms are more female dominated...

It is, what it is. Not sure it justifies hiring models to balance the gender ratio in a party, but the workforce imbalance is there to stay as long as there is such an imbalance ratio in CS grads.

> I live in NYC, and they have the opposite is here, most PR or fashion firms are more female dominated...

In NYC the tech companies are also diverse. They solve problems of other industries with tech and hire for many different roles besides engineers. Tech companies in NYC generally have significantly more women compared to Silicon Valley.

~60% of the developers on my team are women. It's not magic. Also, in a big company most employees are not engineers, so the relative lack of female CS grads shouldn't mean there are so few women that you need to hire them for events.

Yes, for small team (sub 10), I have seen high ratio of females/males, but for larger companies, it is impossible.

If you are hiring 100s, or even thousands of engineers you are bound to the supply of the market. Unless you do some straight out hiring discrimination, and refuse to hire males. Similar to some Vegas clubs (they wont let males unless they have a female with them). Good luck building a successful business with those values.

It is Econ 101 dude... or dudette (not sure you are guy or a girl)

P.s. I personally would love to have seen balanced genders (working for tech companies sometimes it feels like you are in the army), but that's probably a utopian ideal that is not going to be fixed in my lifetime.

You are obviously bound to the supply of the market. What I'm saying is that the market is bigger than you assume. The number of women interested in and capable of a career in programming is much greater than the number of those who actually want to work at your company.

What do you estimate is the gender ratio for software developers? And how can you expect every company to go over it? Surely it is not 50% or over. In addition, for every company that goes over the average (perhaps like yours), another company must go under the average.

The number I think is important is not how many CS grads there are (no one on my team has a CS major) or how many software developers there are, it's how many people are interested in and capable of this job. I don't know what the "true" ratio is but I'm sure it is more than 16% of women which is where ardit anchored it.

It often comes back to this "pipeline" problem, but we need to think of our companies as being part of the pipeline. I don't have a CS degree -- I came out of college with a BA -- but I landed a firmware programming job, 2 jobs and 7 years later I am experience and "senior". If you're willing to train smart people, you can sideline the pipeline issue.

>~60% of the developers on my team are women. It's not magic

Which is leagues above the vast majority of engineering companies, as well as the overall population within the software engineering community at large. Yours is an outlier, and an obvious one at that.

No doubt. I'm not here to say any company can have ~50% female engineers if only they did what we do, but this idea that a more reasonable expectation would be 16% strikes me as bullshit.

So I'm boasting a bit, not claiming this is normal, but just to say... come on guys, think bigger.

iirc male CS grads outnumber females by more than 4:1, so ~20% seems about spot on, no? It's something that would have to be attacked at a level far before employment, e.g., social constructs and the education system. Once it comes down to the employer they only have one pool from which to draw applicants.

20% would be a lower bound. I majored in a hard science, not CS. Two great programmers I know, in senior positions, don't even have a degree. At my last company there was a decent Rails engineer who studied communication in college and had worked in affiliate marketing at his previous job. There was also a guy who was a lawyer and then went to code camp and got hired as an engineer.

The pipeline isn't sufficient to explain the gender ratio.

Ok, but if we assume that the number of non-CS grads who work in software development is proportional (seems fair) between males and females you're still in the same boat. Are you saying that women far out number men when it comes to sw devs who didn't major in CS?

I just don't see any data that supports what you're saying. 20% is the _upper_ bound.

Your question is about people who have already become employed software developers. Obviously those women don't far outnumber men in any respect. What I'm saying is the candidate pool of women is much larger than is assumed here (the candidate pool of men is as well). It wouldn't take a "magic wand" to start hiring them. Maybe doing so would amount to discrimination in some people's eyes, but I think this business of hiring professional models to entertain the men and give the appearance of parity is pretty sketchy as well. Corporations are apparently willing to take drastic measures to create the a certain kind of gendered workplace experience. Given the choice I would rather the results of their actions actually benefit society in some way.

> If they are tech companies and engineers are the primary value drivers, and only 16% of CS grads are female, what kind of rock will they find balanced workforce?

I'd be happy if I found a company that was that balanced, instead of more like 1-2%...

Does your company have 16% or more women in software roles?

There are people who are not "CS grads" who might be able to throw together a web app or two. That number doesn't mean anything.

The fact that a lot of women simply don't like programming, don't find it interesting, find it hard to learn and understand is meaningful.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger... (read from "So if it happens before middle school, and it’s not stereotypes, what might it be?")

It seems that there is a things-people distinction in sexes and it shows.

> If you want more women at the event

This has nothing to do with equality. They aren't hiring these models as equals, but for the misogynistic dynamic (while removing the organic nature of opposite-sex interaction)

> They aren't hiring these models as equals, but for the misogynistic dynamic

Interesting, my mind goes straight to this being incredibly demeaning toward the legitimate male attendees of the party. Didn't even occur to me that somebody would have the opposite interpretation.

That'd be my only thought at the party. "They had to pay this good-looking person to pretend to talk to me." I don't see how this is misogynistic? I just see this as an extreme degradation of the males involved.

Why not both? It's not really a single-dimensional scale; it is perfectly feasible to be simultaneously misogynstic and misandrist at the same time. Proof by existence.

Precisely. It’s the strip club dynamic. Where men are seen as nothing more than disposable vessels of cash, and women are degraded to the level of livestock on display.

It's misogynistic because it commodifies women. Having a woman to talk to is something that you can just buy, like a car or a nice meal. They're not treated as people, just as consummables.

Like hiring a software engineer to make code for you?

It's not comparable.

A programmer spent a lot of time honing their craft, faces every day challenges, has growth opportunities, can aspire to higher salaries through tough work, has growth opportunities, can influence the world around them and create new things. Coding yields power.

While modelling may require difficult labour, it's mostly just "congratulations for your face".

Let's see you put on a bikini on the beach during winter and pretend you're not freezing your ass off to shoot the catalog for next summer.

Now do it for 12 hours straight. Yes, it's just a pretty face, no skill required.

I would argue this angle is irrelevant.

It's not about whether it is difficult or not, it is more about what type of culture do such things foster and what values does it signal (referring to "SV roller skate models").

Not only does it not commodify women, you're assumption that men will treat them as objects is possibly bigoted.

Men having polite conversations with women is 'wrong' only in a dystopian future.

I personally think it's a little ridiculous and would not want to attend, nor would I put together a party like that, but it's a matter of social taste, not morality.

The focus is on the attractiveness of the women, and the presence of women for men's sake. Misogyny is degrading to everyone involved.

They are hiring them to hack "stupid" geeks that aren't accustomed to attractive female presence, with the usual "to corrupt geek" fun they play since high school. It's trying to hack male biological response in favor of whatever, a pretty low-life stuff.

> while removing the organic nature of opposite-sex interaction

One needs to be absolutely insane to organically interact with a co-worker of opposite sex at a company social events considering the popularity of all kinds of sexual harassment claims.

I really hope that you're joking. You don't know how to interact with the opposite sex without it being sexual harassment? Or are you saying that all the women making those claims are frauds who treat non harassment as harassment?

I like the money that I make. My solution is to avoid any and all interaction that is not mandatory.

"but for the misogynistic dynamic"

Male appreciation of female company is utterly and absolutely in not 'misogynistic'.

Not only that - it's also very normal, and frankly good.

If people are treated as sexual objects, then you can complain.

How do you square your claim of misogyny against the fact that male models are also employed in these roles?

If they are, that's an improvement. What's the breakdown like? I've venture to say less than 1% overall.

LMRTAFY: "For a typical party, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 8, Cre8 Agency LLC is sending 25 women and 5 men, all good-looking..."

Oh ok, your comment said ".. also employed in these roles.." so I thought you were speaking to more than the article.

The article gave one example of 30 models (5 men and 25 women) -- so 20% in that case.

Makes sense; I thought parent comment was speaking to more than the one party indicated in the article: "... also employed in these roles ..."

I too think this is pretty crass and as artificial as so much else in SV. But to play devil's advocate, aren't they hiring more women, but instead of employees, they're hiring contractors? They just happen to be hiring women whose gifts are more physical and social than technical. And why shouldn't those women be able to work?

For me, I don't mind anyone being hired or contracted for skills in guest relations, marketing or any position or work need. This bothers me though, because it's a contrivance being used to not only help their employees have fun, but to mask a systemic flaw, which is just too much in the SV culture of always killing it, everything is amazing, fake it till you make it, false value creation and other cultural negatives that prevent true growth and benefits to the part of their society they are primarily responsible for: their work force.

This is really generalized, though, but it would apply to more than a handful of SV companies.

But I do think that they're living up to the letter of what you're saying, but definitely not the spirit of it.

> But to play devil's advocate, aren't they hiring more women, but instead of employees, they're hiring contractors? They just happen to be hiring women whose gifts are more physical and social than technical.

The issue is the gender disparity in _software_engineering_, which is actually made worse by this, because hiring someone because they look pretty (they're not asking agencies for, like, conversationalists with master's degree, and if they were, they'd still have to be attractive) is straight-up objectification, which is bad for women everywhere - and men.

I dunno, I struggle with the area of what constitutes objectification here. On the one hand, yes they're hired first because they're pretty, but assuming that's the only quality they bring, or that it's somehow baser or less valuable than technical skills seems to me still degrading to an entire group of people who do put a lot of work into both their presentation and ability to navigate socially.

The other part is that I don't think it's wrong to allow the GUI of a person to be the initial draw towards someone else. If that's all someone wants, then they're shallow and objectifying someone.

But for as many guys in SV who are pervs only out for one thing, I'm willing to wager that there are just as many, if not more, introverted SE's who actually don't mind a more personal connection, however momentary, than to just get their rocks off. Sometimes it's nice to have a short, if meaningful, or at least interesting conversation with someone so far out of your league in traditional social contexts.

I'm not trying to be an apologist for this practice, I just feel that while it has its own innocent value, it could be implemented in a way that is a bit more transparent and helpful long-term to what is behind some of the motivations for this.

I think he's talking about the party models...

> And why shouldn't those women be able to work?

> " made them sign nondisclosure agreements, and given them names of employees to pretend they’re friends with, in case anyone asks why he’s never seen them around the foosball table. > “The companies don’t want their staff to be talking to someone and think, Oh, this person was hired to socialize with me,” says Kermaani, who’s sending models to seven tech parties in the same weekend.

They are pretenders and I would feel betrayed. By my company. They hire people to betray me. Really? No. They shall just be honest about it and I can deal with it. But this? No. I don't want to waste my time with those pretenders.

> If you want more women at the event, hire more women at the company and create a culture that encourages that.

Well hold on now, this may be the solution to that. Include some male models on rollerskates and the female hiring rate should climb in response.

As a straight male, this sounds like a really fun idea.

" The whole point is to celebrate with the employees and their families and recognize the hard work everyone has put in over the year. "

Not really, that's more a 'New Years' thing.

Christmas 'party' is just really a Christmas season gathering.

It really isn't even a party.

Imagine 100 years ago, your grandad owns a printing press in town. December 20th he brings in Egg Nog, a cake, everyone stops working. Maybe a local musician sings a few songs. Maybe some people drink a little too much.

Or maybe he pays for a nice dinner at the local restaurant and people show up and 'give thanks'. Light a candle.

That's it.

We are so 'de-culturalized' in North America we don't even know how to do something normal.

Of course a 'holiday party' could technically be anything people want it to be, but there's no reason to go to this level.

When in doubt: just go out for dinner. :)

Don't employees usually bring a +1 to these events anyway?

Oddly, the company party at my place of work has been employee-only for the last half dozen years, which has consequently meant I have left the party not long after opening and saying hello to a few folks, playing darts or something, grabbing a drink, and getting the heck outta there since I want to head home to my +1 and not expose my +1 to the feeling of abandonment.

But they did hire them. Pedantry aside though, what's wrong with having a boring party?

Not enough board games to solve that boredom problem, evidently.

The whole point is to take them to the hotel.

I was really hoping that this article was going to talk about some kind of machine-learned model that had been used to improve holiday parties. My hopes, dashed against the shores of reality.

haha, I thought the same when I first read the blurb.

When attendance is so important to leadership theyre willing to do anything to insist their holiday parties are somehow different than any other corporations awkward, two drink ticket catered navel gazing event.

'non mandatory employee engagement' is generally how HR describes these sterile lifeless get-togethers. This inevitably gets translated into "i strongly encourage my team to attend" by management, which in turn results in every H1B employee showing up in cringing terror of being fired while every salaried non-exempt engineer and programmer brace for the inevitable "so, i didnt see you at the party last week!" from their manager.

Save the time and effort. split the budget for this dumpster fire masquerading as a social event, and add it to my raise.

I always heard no one ever gets promoted at the holiday party, but plenty of people get fired. So I show up early, have two drinks, say hi, and leave before doing anything regrettable.

I even skip the drinks.

My previous employer had the best Christmas parties I have ever seen. We rented out a restaurant, open bar, and it was fun as hell. We worked our asses off, generally 50+ hours a week, and everyone got a chance to blow off steam together. I got a chance to really know executive management I would have been way too intimidated to ever approach.

Today I work for a different company, and we had one of these events you are talking about. I actually had just as much fun, if not more fun, than the previous lavish parties I was used to. I feel like I have a much more personable relationship to at least a half-hour other people I normally don't interact with on a day-to-day basis.

It's what you make of it. If not showing up for you is working, rock on man. If enjoy an opportunity to get to know everyone I work with and find out what we have in common.

I've seen two successful approaches:

1) make it super interesting but excuse the family-types who instead take time off.

2) remove the party bit and make it an extra-curricular commitment perhaps giving-oriented like community service.

Mandatory Happiness belongs in one of the circles of hell.

Nothing like celebrating the year with some community service!

You joke, but there's some definite advantages to that strategy. From my point of view:

* I'm a software engineer. I'm already highly-paid, so the marginal hedonic impact of a nice party is relatively small compared to its monetary cost.

* I'm nerdy, and prefer quiet, small, get-togethers centered around an activity, compared to large, loud, alcohol-fueled parties.

* Holiday parties are often in the evening, requiring me to schedule time for a work activity in typical non-work time. Community Service is often most reasonably performed in the day, making it an alternative activity during the workday.

* As a highly-paid engineer, I'm aware of differences in luck and circumstance that led to my current good fortune - giving back to the community has a relatively notable hedonic impact.

* As a software engineer, most of my work is non-tangible and abstract - I basically talk to a non-person, all day. Many types of community service involve physical labor, repairing or constructing a physical thing/place. This taps in to some core desire of humans, and thus also has notable hedonic impact.

* Community Service is good PR, for both the company and employee. Holiday parties risk negative PR, either for drunken scandals, visions of gilded-age excess, or both.

* The money that _could_ be spent on alcohol, catering, venue, DJs, and apparently modeling talent, I'd rather see spent on more direct benefits for employees - snacks, educational materials/career development, or just plain raises.

So, yeah, I would definitely consider the perks of working for a company that advertised that it did _not_ host large holiday parties, spent the budget elsewhere, and organized community service events.

Next up: models at your weekend company potluck!

Yes please

Models are loads of fun

I actually don't see much of a problem. These models are hired to have a chat with nerds, and the nerds are actually paid (directly and indirectly) to talk to them. Everyone is paid to be at that party and look reasonably good for the appearance of a good time. Most 'nerds' there don't enjoy being there either, they do it because they are professionals... like the models they are mingling with...?

Any issue there? I mean, I rather enjoy talking to a model (female, or male in fact) -- it's not a business I understand, they are professionals with possibly quite interesting lifestyles and stories. Wildly different from the 'colleague' grade. I used to hang out with ballet dancers in a different lifetime, it was fascinating.

Likewise, it's entirely possibly that models will be happy to work on their acting skills and so on to play that game. Perhaps the nerds can take a clue or two...

It's not a strip club, it's no more degrading for the models as it is to the employees, who still have to put up and suck up to their managements -sometime abusive, in more subtle ways- for the sake of appearance (just not physical), so how different is it?

Oh and remember, some models also like parties. In the wild days of the 90's at computer shows, most 'parties' ended up in 'afters' with a whole bunch of the show models, because if you throw a bunch of (then) young people from different backgrounds together with a corporate credit card, stuff is going to happen, after business hours.

Under that reasoning, why bother with the party to begin with?

Because, appearances? I mean, in many companies, you have to appear at socials -- remember, execs have zero clues what you are doing, all they know is what they can see and touch.

> Any issue there? I mean, I rather enjoy talking to a model (female, or male in fact) -- it's not a business I understand, they are professionals with possibly quite interesting lifestyles and stories.

Yea. True. But they have to pretend they are friends of employees. They lie to you. The company pays people to come and lie.

It would be whole 'nother story if they would be upright about it.

It would be more honest --- still inappropriate --- for a company to take everyone out to a strip club where the rules of interaction are well-known.

It's gross that a company would hire women and have them pretend to be employees solely for the gratification of the men. And no, it doesn't matter if there were a few male models. That's not appropriate either, but it's very clear that this is a practice aimed at men at male-dominated companies.

The employer is not in the business of getting you off. Practices that try to do that inherently create an exclusionary environment.

And if your defense against the blatant objectification of women described in this article is some variant of "oh but look at both sides" then I suggest that you look at human interaction in the context of history and not as a blank Jupyter notebook that you put numbers into.

This is not new for sure, but it deserves discussion in light of the #metoo movement. In SV we're supposed to be innovators, why aren't we leading the way towards a more equal society? If our holiday parties are boring because we've hired a masculine monoculture, then maybe the solution is to hire more diverse people the entire year. It's objectifying to women and minorities if the only time we're hired is to make something more exciting for a few hours.

Because the honest truth of the matter is that the nerds that got bullied and discriminated against when they were young, only ever wanting to just be like others and fit it, got exactly what they wanted. They are just as bullying and obnoxious and discriminating as the people that bullied them.

Who is being bullied in the article's situation?

Do you realize that they are tech companies and need engineers, and only 16% of CS graduates are female? Where will they find the balanced ratio if the supply is so bad?

You can't just wave a magical wand and suddenly make more women engineers.

Most tech companies genuinely want to have balanced gender ratio in their workforce, but they can't as there are just not enough women that graduate on CS.

"By dividing the school's number of female graduates by this overall average, we discovered the average percentage of women in computer science programs; 16%."

Ya, and with limited supply, as more bigger richer companies strongly focus on gender diversity, it will make it worse than it was before for the rest of the industry. The problem will have to be corrected in the universities before it is in the industry. Many higher end CS programs are making great strides here, so I think it will happen in a couple of generations.

But you're presupposing a problem. It's possible that women don't enter CS due to personal preference. Not because CS is hostile to women but because the subject matter isn't interesting to them.

I heard somewhere that there are just as many women in undergrad math as men, but the ratio dramatically decreases in graduate math because so many women leave... to teach.

Stanford has done wonders getting is to almost parity between male and female. Now, CS was already oversubscribed, so I’m not sure how much shaping is going on, but many departments don’t have a shortage of female applicants if they are competitive.

I do wish there was more research on how the gender gap arose in the first place, e.g. why that drop occurred in the mid/late 80s.

Yet somehow we don't see the same self-sorting phenomenon in other cultures. Russia, for instance. Maybe the one good thing communism accomplished was to create a culture in which everyone knows women can be technical. (Maybe that was part of the culture before -- I wouldn't know -- but the Soviets certainly encouraged it.)

To be clear, china has the same problem, perhaps even worse despite its reputation of gender diversity. Our big boss when I was working in china made it abundantly clear to us that we had to hire more women, and that there were supply issues from the universities, etc.... Maybe India does better?

Also, I find it weird that while I’ve met many Russian developers, I’ve never met a female Russian developer. That is just anecdata of course, take it with a grain of salt.

I do know two very good female Russian developers. I know a lot more male Russian developers, but few of them are as good as these two. I also know a couple of good female Russian QA engineers.

In light of the #metoo movement and the numerous sexual harassment accusations, all across the board, this is what I see: things aren't that different SV.

Where is the "In SV we're supposed to be innovators, why aren't we leading the way towards a more equal society?" narrative grounded?

> Where is the "In SV we're supposed to be innovators, why aren't we leading the way towards a more equal society?" narrative grounded?

Mostly in the minds of people who are still trying to convince themselves that their advertising and surveillance code or "social" skinner box is "making the world a better place".

> If our holiday parties are boring because we've hired a masculine monoculture, then maybe the solution is to hire more diverse people the entire year.

Perhaps companies are hiring based on performance at work, rather than performance at parties?

no need for more hiring diversity, just keep calling them out. diversity hiring is one way some of these creeps mollify their conscious and excuse themselves for keeping these activities. plus if you can find other people whom you don't agree with you can redirect the guilt.

the simplest method is to make known our displeasure and just call them out. it can be stopped. the culture of men will be men and women will be quiet will end in SV but only by going after the problem directly, not indirectly through hiring practices

I don't believe SV has the kind of culture to do that. It's clear to me that liberty, equality, and fraternity in this place died a long time ago in pursuit of power and money. You can try to reform them, but the system at its heart encourages these kinds of behaviors, behaviors that are at its root symptomatic of inequality.

  I was once invited to a recruiting event by palantir (it was in Israel) where I noticed a bunch of good looking women talking up other people. The weird thing was they were all dressed practically the same, wearimg a small black dress. Now, this event wasn't formal or anything, so I gathered that they were 'atmosphere models'. That was a very weird experience , to think that someone paid for pretty women to have human interaction with me. I don't get how this passes as a good idea. 
Later I found out the organizer was a woman, so bizarre. Silicon valley is weird.

I'd feel incredibly akward turning up to a works party and there's models there who were basically being paid to pretend they want to talk to me.

It's just awful and sad.

This would actually freak me out, I would probably need to leave immediately once I understood what was happening.


Like joining a soccer game and finding out half the other team was hired to let you score goals -- not a very stimulating experience if you ask me.

What would be the analogous of scoring goals in the context of a work party with coworkers? Also, I think it would be a bit exaggerated to freak out and leave. Although maybe I'm imagining the situation differently to how it was.

Since you didn't get the analogy: I don't find it enjoyable to converse with people who are paid to deceive me, especially if I find out about it after the fact. I wouldn't mind it as much if the models were clearly identified as such so that I could either avoid them or engage with them knowing full well what's going on. I am shocked you find this surprising.

My bad, I didn't know they were meant to pass as guests! I imagined they would be clearly identified. I agree it's a very uncomfortable situation.

They arent there for you, they are there for the entertainment of the organizer because of their bubbly personality which only works because of their physical attraction.

They will also be entertaining to the guests.

Many models are equally as excited about your tech company and the tech sector. You might find a few of them more interesting than your coworkers.

Huh. Seems like a better way to do it would be to just invite / hire a BUNCH of artists. No need to pretend; support an important part of why the Bay is the Bay, and expose your peeps to people they might not otherwise meet.

The cool underground artists that made the bay what it is can't afford the bay anymore

I doubt very many artists would be interested in spending their night having awkward forced interactions with random brogrammers and Kalanicks at a corporate christmas party. There's a reason these companies have to pay women to show up and pretend to be interested in what their employees have to say.

> awkward forced interactions

Then you're "doing it wrong". Pay them to bring their art. Include them in the party (whatever degree of free drinks / food / access everyone else gets). Tell them that if someone's being a dick, they can feel free to be a dick right back.

Teach your people that no-one else is responsible for their happiness.

Invite D level celebrities like sci fi authors, tech blogger, or video game creators! Even Youtubers!

Most models are artists, not sure why you want the convoluted impractical version.

> Most models are artists

This is fair!

> convoluted impractical version.

I don't understand.

That's a brilliant idea!

During the dot-com boom in Atlanta back in '99-'00, agencies and, to some extent, startups around the city were known for hitting the strip clubs for client meetings. It was pretty rife out there within the industry.

I doubt that would even remotely pass today. Just because some practices were "acceptable" over a prior timeframe doesn't exactly render it acceptable today.

I was in Atlanta from '78 to 2000. From '80 to '93 I owned several businesses. I had clients come in and ask to go to the strip clubs. I declined. We offered cab money. I suspect some of my employees went with them but I was never in the know.

This is still fairly common in B2B and enterprise sales relationship management from what I see and have been told.

Know your customer and their representative(s) tastes.

There's a popular strip club in San Francisco's financial district, it is a prime spot for tech company business meetings. They have a lunch with rave reviews.

So much so that local tech company - Yelp's - employee manual says its not an appropriate place for meetings

But to act like this is part of days gone by.... well Washington Post chooses to try and shame the tech industry in different ways.

You have to realize that these articles are comedy, a trope, a meme, and unhinged from people's actual perspectives, including the model's themselves, many of which are also women with rational opinions and interest in the tech sector.

No, this reality isn't inclusive to all people, and many women, who are working hard on a career devoid of these distractions. They are not capable of unilaterally being the voice of the women that are just as thrilled to cater to the tech sector but using just their bodies.

Submarine for Cre8? I can’t imagine how an article like this crosses a writer’s desk without a tip-off, most likely from the guy quoted in the article, who runs the agency. For all we know he could be totally fabricating the whole claim.

This is “journalism” ladies and gentlemen...

This has been happening at tech companies for decades. Not only are there models at the parties, but there's entertainment, food, drinks, etc.

It's a good time, enjoy yourself and don't take it too seriously. This really isn't the end of the World.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they had male models also. Actually, I’m sure someone could make that into a winning business.

The article mentions that they had a few male models. At this company, anyway.

This has been standard practice for decades -- nothing new.

Moreover, it's standard practice in a lot of big industries. Particularly advertising, finance, automobiles, and others.

A lot of things have been standard practices in various industries for decades. That doesn't mean they should be, and today's world gives everyone a new voice to challenge these kind of things.

What's the issue with this exactly? The models are getting paid. Presumably no one is compelled to work as a hired model at one of these events.

It's social papier-mâché, and the fakeness is demeaning.

However, that aside, the lack of disclosure is unethical.

Demeaning to whom exactly?

Im trying to figure out what your argument rests upon.

lol at lack of disclosure, call the FTC

Nothing new, this has been happening for a long time. They are called atmosphere models.

We have atmosphere models that show carbon emissions are warming the planet.

Should we continue to just gawk at those models too? Or do something about it?

It's 2017, not an episode of Mad Men.

Maybe 2017 is a future generation’s episode of Mad Men.

ya well i'm starting my own company with blackjack and hookers. i (a woman) happen to enjoy pretty men and women, why wouldn't i want to have some atmosphere models at my event?

The strangest thing is going to a city where none of this is controversial

Its great

A lot of things have been happening for a long time. That doesn't guarantee it should continue.

I’m commenting more on the article than the practice. It’s clear that someone wrote this with a splashy headline and juicy intro to make it seem like some new phenomenon that perfectly dove tails with current events about sexual harassment or lack of company diversity.

I mean, I don't work in Silicon Valley, but it was my impression that this sort of thing _used_ to be common, but had largely gone away now. I'm very surprised that it is (apparently) more common than ever, especially in the current climate.

How is that a splashy headline? Are you referring to "sneaking"?

> “The companies don’t want their staff to be talking to someone and think, Oh, this person was hired to socialize with me,” says Kermaani, who’s sending models to seven tech parties in the same weekend.

It's just accurate.

And where in the article is there any implication that this is an entirely new thing?

> say a record number of tech companies are quietly paying [..] it’s part of an older trend. Tech companies have long used models to run their booths at trade shows such as CES in Las Vegas, hype up crowds at product launches, and direct foot traffic at conferences. That said, this year’s record-setting requests for the minglers, known as “ambiance and atmosphere models,” are a step beyond what the industry has seen before, says Chris Hanna, who’s run TSM Agency since 2004 and counts among his clients “one of the largest search engines in the world.”

The agencies themselves seem to say it's reaching a new level in both number and now becoming about a generic fun-ness, rather than more specific tasks, like sit in this booth and be pretty. But other than that, the article outright says it's not new.

The record numbers are not up for debate anyway I guess, but as for the "type" of engagement, if you imply this has always been so generic and fake, what's your source for making that claim?

> that perfectly dove tails with current events about sexual harassment or lack of company diversity.

So you are you saying it doesn't? Can you eloborate on how sexism has nothing to do with it, then?

It's a splashy headline. "Sneaking" is unnecessary. Replace the word with "Hiring", you don't sneak atmosphere models into a party, you hire them and they show up. There's also no point in calling out this year's parties, this has happened at a bunch of parties for at least the last two decades. It's not even exclusive to Silicon Valley!

Tradeshow models, booth models, and atmosphere models are also not the same. Tradeshow models must at least know about the product they are representing to discuss it with a potential customer. Atmosphere models must be very sociable and capable of carrying good conversation with anyone, you cannot just turn a cold shoulder to someone you don't find interesting. Booth models are mostly there to look pretty and maybe help with generic marketing tasks like passing out flyers.

Pointing out that the practice isn't new in the article doesn't mean the article itself transforms into something new and becomes a breath of fresh air. It's still a rehash of old ideas made to feed off current events to produce a bit of ad revenue from people looking to keep their outrage up to date.

So yes, I'm saying this does perfectly fit into current events. It was designed to.

I think "sneak" means they are trying to pass them off of friends of employees, even instructing them to say so, as opposed to disclosing why they are there. Lying to your employees, even "white lies", is sneaky.

> It's a splashy headline. "Sneaking" is unnecessary. Replace the word with "Hiring"

No, it's simply accurate:

> Most models’ contracts say they won’t exchange contact information with party guests, and that gets tougher to handle with grace when they’re legally bound to pretend they’re guests, too.

Legally bound ro pretend. Are booth and trade show girls also legally bound to pretend they're not hired? Of course not. So again, you claimed this isn't new, do and I asked you to back it up. Simply because I'm not aware of this practice having a long history and the article doesn't give info on that either. You pretend you know something, now show you know something. But instead you talk again only what nobody can prove or refute, the motivations of the author of the piece (nevermind how much of the article is straight quotes from people running such agencies, but I guess those just want to foster "outrage", too).

> Pointing out that the practice isn't new in the article doesn't mean the article itself transforms into something new and becomes a breath of fresh air.

Who said any of that? The article says the general practice to hire models isn't new, but the practice of faking it becoming common at such scale is. You seem to disagree, because you said how the article "makes it seem" as if any of it is new. That's implying it's not new. You have not managed to back up that implied claim so far, not in in the slightest. Talking about what nobody can prove or disprove, the motivations of the author, is like adding another level below the lowest level of disagreement: you're not even disagreeing with the tone, you're disagreeing with what you make up in your head.

> So yes, I'm saying this does perfectly fit into current events. It was designed to.

What does that even mean? That the journalist Jedi mind tricked these companies to hire atmosphere models at unprecedented levels so they can write about it? If you get upset at the word "sneaking" in this context, like it's some solar system sized alien mothership of clickbait, you're not making a point, you're designing a straw man. Look no further for "design".

What do you want to change, and what is your rationale?

> For a typical party, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 8, Cre8 Agency LLC is sending 25 women and 5 men, all good-looking, to hang out with “pretty much all men” who work for a large gaming company in San Francisco

Who is it?

Educated guess, based on "large gaming company," "San Francisco," the number of models hired, hand selecting those models and giving them backstories, and the disregard for opinion in doing something like this: Kixeye. Honestly, that smells a hell of a lot like something Kixeye would do. Maybe EA or Zynga, but I doubt it.

As soon as I finished the paragraph, Kixeye popped into my head automatically. I will caveat that I'm very possibly wrong, but I'm just sharing my guess.

I wouldn't mind this at all. Given the choice between a meaningless conversation with a model, one with what's-his-name-again from Accounting, or a generic work conversation with the coworkers I spend most of my life talking with, I'd choose the model.

Having hosts at an event is one thing having people pretend to be guests of the party is seriously creepy. I've never heard of this happening at a bay area tech company (as in from someone who went to one) though perhaps they wouldn't have known.

This article and especially the comments here are desperately searching for something to take offense to. FFS it's just a corporate holiday party. These things are usually so bland and sterile I don't even show up. Companies do all sorts of things to drive attendance: Good food, drinks, interesting venue, and entertainment. These guests are hired to further improve the atmosphere. Artificial? Sure. The end of the world? Come on.

The article specifically mentions that male models are also employed, so all of the knee-jerk ranting about sexism and misogyny is misplaced.

Isn't the whole point of paying $5000/month to live in SF the access to cultural benefits? If you want a strict monastic environment for your company, rural Idaho would probably get the job done at 1/10 the price.

I'm reminded of a story a couple years ago when all incoming Duke freshman had to read Alison Bechdel's Fun House, a graphic novel with slightly gay themes. Yes, a few were offended by this, and one person made the news for publicly refusing to read it. But I don't think it ended up as a PR loss for Duke. They said if you are coming into an elite liberal arts college, these are the type of things that are consumed and debated.

Everything makes someone uncomfortable, mine's Karaoke - if they have a machine there people will be like, "stillsut come up and sing Tom Petty with me". But we need to be firm about our desires and not let the heckler's veto erode the culture.

This isn’t new.


They’ve been flying women to San Francisco for dates.

Totally different. The article you're referencing is trying to connect two dating markets (SF and NYC) where both sides are ostensibly interested.

Models at parties are actors, pretending to be real people.

Presumably models are also real people who have an interest in being there (their interest is in being paid).

If consenting adults are being treated fairly, I don't see any moral problem here.

The article says they are told to say "I'm (real employee)'s friend". If I go to a party put on by my employer and they are paying people to lie to me, I would say I'm not being treated fairly.

Edit: Oops. I misread you the first time. Maybe my comment is no longer relevant.

But you chose to accept that job. The actor on TV isn't being treated unfairly because he/she has to lie and say they're a detective, or whatever. I don't see why the model is being mistreated because her role is software company employee.

If anyone is being mistreated by the lie, it's the person being lied to, who is, you know, being lied to. That said, this is a balance between having a fun party, and possibly feeling dumb when it turns out the girl you thought you were flirting with is actually a model hired to entertain you. I think it's up to those companies, the employees, and the models, to strike the right balance.

Actually, they're also real people. They're merely pretending to be someone they are not.

Maybe they should invite some other company to their party with the other gender ratio if it is such a problem.

My thoughts exactly. Or host semi-exclusive parties at larger public venues such as bowling centers, where employees have chance to mingle with outsiders, likely with better gender ratio (most such venues have split sections and people can walk across them. Thirsty Bear in SF is a good one). Not to even mention implication on gender issues, hiring models to interact with employees does not really help them improve their social skills.

We tried to host such a thing a few times in college.

Apparently female-dominated environments suffer from social awkwardness as much as male-dominated ones.

It's been years since i attended my company Christmas party, last time i went C-levels were bragging how much money/things they have, specially to the new employees and everyone else was either discussing work things or the latest gossip on what c-level is going to get fired. SV parties looks like they are trying hard to make wolf-of-wallstreet-level parties.

When I first saw this the headline was shrunk to "Silicon Valley Is Sneaking Models into..." and I assumed "the workplace" to be the logical conclusion of this. People paid to look pretty and sit at a desk and pretend like they work to adjust the workplace ambiance? Seems like a logical direction for this to go in.

Similar things have already been happening in Asian countries for years... e.g. https://kotaku.com/in-china-women-hired-to-motivate-computer...

Kind of sad.

Oh yes, I remember this. It ends up with prostitutes being hired by the company for the evening, sometimes on a banded scale such that the most attractive prostitutes are only for the senior employees. Used to be primarily in the finance industry, but modern Bro-tech companies are following that path. It's nice that some agencies screen out the obvious requests for that, but such customers will just move on to the agencies that don't.

If I were Norvig-like I'd claim I was at the party for my looks.

"Silicon Valley is" is real lazy and dumb reporting.

that's why companies in Bay Area need to at least try to be good citizens representing Silicon Valley. Generalization is a tendency in human nature.

This is pathetic. Either don't hire women to be there or just hire a bunch of strippers. I say this as someone who is irritated by both sexism and political correctness run amok.

Their job isn't just to be attractive. Their job is to help schmooze people who don't seem to be having fun. There are social skills involved, whether or not you value or believe in them.

This is honestly the most valuable comment on this page, and ironically it's the very last one that I see.

The models in this case really are performing a valuable job.

Perhaps that's worth doing, no one wants to feel left out at a party. But then why do they need to be models, or focus on talking to the opposite gender?

What's so wrong with enjoying the company of women with better genetics than most?

Are you used to paying for company?

Certainly don't pay to go to movies and watch ugly people

How is that relevant?

sounds awful


Its kind of funny. These Silicon Valley types make $150k, but still can't get a girlfriend

It might be different in SV but my experience in IT has been that the vast majority of employees over 25 are in stable marriages and either have or are planning on having kids. Of course the Valley is its own special bubble but doubt singledom is going to be the path most end up on into middle age.

I'll anecdotally confirm this. As much as people love shitting on the awkwardness of nerds, most people get it together enough to find love by age 25.

People learn enough social niceties to get by, even if they never become the life of the party. Women start caring less about how cool the guy is and and start caring more about "Do I actually get along with this person?" Somewhere in the middle of those lowered expectations for coolness and increased social competence, nerds do just fine.

Why would you be upset if the models are not?

The models might be really upset if they don't get that job where they make $200 an hour. That might be the difference between presents under a tree and no Christmas for their kids.

Because they are ordered to deceive me?

I, too, frequently forget that there are people in this world besides me and “the models.”

Well, yeah, that's my not so subtle point here. The only people who seem to be upset are the people who have to have paid actors pretend to be their friends for a few hours.

From the outside, it looks silly. I think it would be a shame to see their personal embarrassment and bruised egos ruin an easy job opportunity for a few people who would like to make $200/hr attending a party. That sounds like a pie job. Professional party attender.

How incredibly cringeworthy. Glad to see Silicon Valley companies continuing to meet my expectations.

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