Booth Babes and Sexism At CES, Again

“Booth babe” photographed by Jill Rosenthal Notkin

The Consumer Electronics show happened in Las Vegas last week, and once again the women that attended are returning with more than just a sense of the hottest new products they are coming back pissed off by the sexism they witnessed at the conference.

For years, a common site at the CES conference has been the phenomena known as ‘booth babes,’ described beautifully in this Mashable article by Chris Taylor:

‘Booth babes’ have been one of the more unfortunate features of tech trade shows for years. Women (we’ve never seen any male booth babes) chosen for their looks are paid to hang around a company’s booth and attract the mostly male, mostly older attendees.

Sometimes the women are well paid, sometimes they get minimum wage, but their relationship to the product in question is usually gossamer-thin.

But I read with interest this great post by Liz of Mom 101 because while she was prepared for the ‘booth babes,’ she was startled by the entrenched sexism of the men working in the booths.

One of the very first booths we stopped at Tuesday morning was a company which makes mobile charging cases that they only wish were a fraction as good as the Mophie. I had been sent a press sample for review consideration recently and couldn’t get the damn thing off my phone—nor could Nate. So I looked forward to talking to the them about what we might be doing wrong or whether we had an odd faulty case.

“You must be afraid of breaking your nails,” old grey-hair eats-a-lot-of-bacon guy sneered at me.

Sadly, this experience wasn’t limited to just that booth. Liz also goes on to note that every single keynote presenter at the conference was male but noted these statistics about women and technology.

According to research from the very organization putting on the show, women spend more on tech than men. They’re involved in 89% of the consumer electronic purchase decisions. They own smartphones and digital cameras and laptops and tablets. They buy apps like crazy. And you know? They’re writing about technology too.

 

Let’s really hope that 2014 sees a big change at CES. Because this is really unacceptable.

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