By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0) In a much discussed BBC Video about CES 2012, a booth babe tells the reporter "I don’t know any women [interested in tech]. I don’t know any women that would choose the tech world over shopping or cooking or taking care of kids." Wait, is this really 2012?
Here is the CES Booth Babe Problem as articulated by Violet Blue:
"CES doesn’t look much like a cutting-edge convention now that problems have emerged around the hired female models dressed in provocative outfits to be “booth babes” at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past week.
CES 2012 booth babes told press that women prefer raising kids to being in technology, men publicly harassed the babes for dates, and female attendees probably wondered if they’d accidentally wandered onto the set of Mad Men."
Headlines such as "Success of Products at CES Depends on How Well They're Marketed to Women" still focus on women as consumers not as builders or enablers of technology, evoking responses like "duh!" from women in technology. In the video on CES product success, women are characterized as liking voice control because they are juggling the kitchen and kids.
I challenge the companies that set up booths in conventions like CES to put their women engineers, product managers, and executives at these booths in respective attire to showcase the product they created.
At the Yahoo! Girl Geek Dinners last year, both men and women engineers and team leads stood by their demo booths and excitedly talked about the technology they created. Is this such a novel concept for people at CES?
Also, CES booth babes that blatantly objectify women probably make a good deal of men uncomfortable as well - these women could be their coworkers, their friends, their partner, their daughters.
At least, please tell me there was a male model wearing a towel just offscreen, next to that toweled woman I've seen on practically every article written about CES booth babes.
Here at Women 2.0, we look at women as the producers, product managers, founders and chief executives of new technology. Because with an inclusive team building products, we make better products - and probably don't do things like let others make offensive slide decks for tech conferences.
Join us on February 14 for Women 2.0 PITCH Conference as we highlight product innovation leaders like Caterina Fake (Flickr/Hunch), Katie Mitic (Facebook) and Robin Chase (Zipcar) as they share best practices and stories of building products with great teams from idea to launch.
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About the guest blogger: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006 with Shaherose Charania. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management, web UI design, and entrepreneurship. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the "+1" for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.