> What you end up with is the situation where you, as a conference goer, walk up to a booth and, because you’re no stranger to how this works, ignore any attractive woman and talk directly to a male at the booth. You assume immediately that any attractive female is there simply for their physical appearance, not for the value that their knowledge brings.
This is not an abstract PC idea of feeling bad about objectifying the booth babe, or wishing to avoid temptation, or whatever. This is a very specific problem that is harmful to the industry and to all the non-booth babes out there. The OP goes on to make some suggestions on how to work towards fixing the problem, but please, if you're going to comment on this, make sure you understand the actual main point first.
At one event a couple years ago, a guy came over to talk with our CTO (a guy) and I and said point blank to me, "do you have an ownership stake in the company? if not, at least you've got one foot in the door to marry this guy?" Nevermind that I'm wearing my wedding ring! All I could do was paint a "go F&%$ yourself" smile on my face and wait for him to leave. The things I would have liked to say, but it just wasn't worth it in that context.
The problem is, most people don't walk up to me expecting me to know about APIs, building applications, solving problems specific to their industry or use case, how supply chain works, or anything else important to their business. This is perpetuated by booth babes. How do I know? If I dress in a frumpy or slightly less feminine style, instead of my normal stylish heels and a skirt suit, I get a different reaction. If I wear skinny jeans and flats and a tshirt or hoodie, look my age (early 20s) and have a self-effacing air, they think "oh she's a nerdy girl" and then they ask the real questions. PUH-LEASE.
Oh - I should also mention that I DO think being a female works from the standpoint of getting booth traffic (can't fight it - sex sells, and you don't even need to be dressed in risque clothes to observe the difference). When I'm at the booth versus a guy, I think we get more traffic. The problem is, its less qualified and their intentions aren't easily converted to caring about our product, they're distracted by some other impulse.
Many people in startups wear costumes too, just a different sort for a different purpose.
I realize that people in tech generally avoid "suits", but there is a time and place for dressing up and there are certain industries where you need to wear the uniform to play the game. Maybe it works to show up in flip flops as the founder of Facebook, but if you're trying to sell someone a mission critical product and they're going to spend tens of thousands of dollars...
...oh man, I digress, this thinking deserves a blog post of its own.
I don't mean anything by it, I just like tailored stuff. It looks good! It's highly evolved to maximise what men have got. But: if I wore one to most of my meetings, or to work, people'd ask questions or make a bunch of unfounded assumptions, so I don't.
It's a myth that technical communities don't care about clothes. They do - it's just they send a very particular set of signals and, what's more, they're the signals common to countercultures. That's fine: it's just another code, no more or less than any other. It'd be discourteous to go against it. I'm still going to be thinking wistfully of the ties in my wardrobe, though!
I bought a suit when I was in Syria two years ago and its probably the most comfortable piece of clothing I own.
Since then I have tried to be more aware of my assumptions and less swayed by appearances, but I haven't always succeeded. Heh, I recall another incident where I roundly ignored an attractive woman at an entrepreneurship meeting, only to find she was a CEO and one of the panel speakers.
The three-piece suit has become sort of my trademark. You don't see them much anymore. It has several benefits: You may be overdressed on some occasions, but you can manage to fit into a huge range of circumstances.
[OT: after having been to the trade show, I still don't know what CBOSS do, besides hire lots of models to man their stand...]
This actually made me wonder if they occasionally do get picked up. There must be some reason that guys think talking to them is not a waste of time...
He didn't say they couldn't make purchasing decisions. Besides, there's still likely to be some value in being front-of-mind when people go back to their companies.
I also don't get it in sports. Why should a striptease-looking-girl give the winner the price (motorsport for example)?
I think booth babes are an expression of "I've got nothing interesting for you so I hired some babes to get your attention".
The only issue I see is how do you avoid forcing the ligitamate women into a second class uniform of sorts ie geek girl so they can be taken seriously.