Women: Booth Bunnies or Boost to Business?

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article 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an entire sphere of the work force is bad for business, but more importantly using women as booth bunnies reflects an outdated concept and a bygone age—not a reputation that any company selling cutting-edge technology should want.

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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