More Brains, Fewer Crotches

Once again we’re back on the sexism topic in tech, watching people with big social media spotlights shine light on terrible ideas and stupid moves. This latest round has been a double-whammy: Squoot treating “women as party favors” (to borrow great wording from the title of Rachel Balik’s Forbes article, linked below) and Geeklist reacting poorly to an inquiry about an advertisement ostensibly done in their name. Add these to the stack of other companies consistently hiring spandex-body-suit-clad booth bunnies at conferences, GoDaddy, and the numbers at Gina Trapani’s “Narrow the Gapp” and it’s obvious that there’s a problem on many levels.

Why I’m really here, though, is because I got asked via Twitter DM “what does this have anything to do with you? tired of people captializing (sic) on the situation!!”

I don’t make business decisions with my crotch, that’s what, and I’d appreciate not being treated as if I do.

Yes, I am capitalizing on the situation. Strike while the iron is hot. Someone in a position to do something should do something, too. For me, right now, that “something” is pointing out that the business tactics that rely on sex just aren’t a good business decision anymore. Not only are these approaches insulting to women but they’re insulting to men as well, and increasingly likely to get called out in very public ways. Why? Because being a person in technology, male or female, is largely about brains. Just like women, us guys also don’t like having our brains ignored while you focus on our crotch. We’re not asexual by any means, but we see what you’re doing and we are smart enough know that there’s no way we’re going back to our hotel room with a booth bunny. Thing is, now we’re not taking your product demo back there, either.

For every company I can think of doing the wrong thing there’s one appearing to do it right, though, and I don’t like seeing everybody lumped in together. I love walking up to the Compellent or Symantec or HP booths because the “booth babes” are actual employees who know what the heck they’re talking about, and often are the people designing & building & supporting what I’m interested in. Using their enormous brains, answering my questions, having a conversation, showing off their work, creativity, and ideas — that’s hot. These are the women I want to go have a drink with!

As fun as it can be to get into other people’s pants, it’s much more fulfilling to get into their heads. Guy or girl. So, as an industry, let’s have a little less of the body and a lot more of the mind, eh? As The Oatmeal dubs it, a “brobdingnagian brainboner” lasts longer and is probably the conversation you really wanted to have, anyhow.

Here are the links to things I’ve referenced, and I welcome civil & thoughtful comments below. I know I’ve made some generalizations and no two people are alike. This is my opinion about the situation, from my point of view, and others have theirs, which aren’t wrong, either. I tried to stay out of the whole Geeklist thing, because as I told my friend @gallifreyan on Twitter the more I look at the situation the more I see that everybody lost in some way (though I do applaud Basho for their response, which was mainly that it has nothing to do with them). GeekList wasn’t specifically my point here and I think Scott Hanselman properly sums up many of the lessons I took from the event.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • While I agree with you on the whole – I DO look forward to seeing bluecat network ladies in spandex. Though I’m not a customer of theirs, I DO remember who they are and what they do. I also know that the more eye-candy there is, the more redirection away from their (less-than-stellar) product there is. Not to say the bluecat is a poor product – but I know their focus at a show isn’t in the tech – but the techie – and that’s why i remember them… The same could be said about vendors taking out their ‘customers’ for drinks, food, etc…

  • As a woman, and less of a minority than it used to be but still a minority, objectifying women in tech only serves to piss me off, and make me less likely to use a company.

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