Women: Booth Bunnies or Boost to Business?By Sara Driscoll | Print
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With a skills crisis looming, businesses need to set better role models for women in the technology sector.
Sex sells. It's a fact of life. Sex, or rather the implication of it, has been used to sell everything from toothpaste to cars and technology to tinned goods.
And yet it is still utterly disappointing to attend a technology trade show and find that women are still being used by companies to entice people to their stand. Surely women are worth more in the market place than just Booth Bunnies?
Of course, I very blatantly have some bias in this area given my own gender. But a quick straw poll of men walking around at the Cebit show in Germany recently proved that many of them also found women parading around as cave girls or wearing slinky cat suits at the show to be in bad taste and slightly embarrassing.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development back in 2003, women are out-achieving men at almost every level of education. The report stated that women are now achieving more first-class degrees at university-level education than men.
The OECD report also stated that females now make up, on average, more than two-thirds of graduates in the humanities, arts, education and health studies, but less than one-third in mathematics and computer science and less than a quarter in engineering.
But is it any wonder that women are reluctant to engage in our sector when companies are still parading them around as dolls in tight dresses in public?
The IT skills crisis has been looming for several years now and one reason for this crisis is the lack of women in our industry. While many universities and the U.S government have hundreds of projects that attempt to encourage women to go into these male dominated industries, businesses should play an equal role in encouraging females into their work force.
MIT, for example, runs its Women's Technology Program, whereby it looks to ignite high school girls' interest in technology and engineering. But if all these high school girls see as role models in our sector is scantily clad women on exhibition stands then they are unlikely to take much interest.
Bypassing an entire sphere of the work force is bad for business, but more importantly using women as booth bunnies reflects an outdated concept and a bygone age—not a reputation that any company selling cutting-edge technology should want.