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What's the verdict on the VMworld 2011 booth babes?

Last week, CIO Symmetry was in the middle of a veritable booth babe coup. I never would have imagined that the VMworld 2011 promotional models would be such an emotional subject and, yet, the blog post was retweeted multiple times and garnered several response posts, like these from Jon Toigo and Anthony Vandewerdt. I wasn’t the only person offended by the VMworld 2011 booth babes. Some commenters questioned what was the big deal, citing the fact that the booth babes were there of their own will (well, they’re being paid by vendors, actually) and missed the crucial point, which blogger Matt Simmons summed up nicely:

What you end up with is the situation where you, as a conference-goer, walk up to a booth and, because you’re no stranger to how this works, ignore any attractive woman and talk directly to a male at the booth. You assume immediately that any attractive female is there simply for their physical appearance, not for the value that their knowledge brings. This is wrong on every level, and it’s an insidious form of objectifying women — it happens gradually, over time, and the more booth babes you see, the more ingrained it becomes.

On Twitter, the argument picked up even more steam. Hilariously, someone pointed at one VMworld 2011 vendor as an example of booth babe overload, and the vendor piped up with “2 out of 3 of our ‘babes’ had MSc in Elec Eng & could pitch us technically.” See? Even those of us on the anti-booth babe camp have a hard time resisting the objectification.

Simmons has put forth a call to action, asking the IT world to take booth staff to task for employing booth staff with no product knowledge, and also suggests that protesters make it count to the vendors’ bottom line by refusing to do business with them.

What do you think? Should booth babes be banned (try saying that four times fast)? Is this a whole lot of noise about some harmless promotional models? Vote your conscience in our quick and dirty informal poll!

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I think this whole conversation is an insult to intelligent self-aware people of either gender. This is more reflective of the insecurities of individuals then an industry crisis. Assuming that attendees ignore the pretty/handsome people because they are fluff is as erroneous as assuming we don’t talk to the overweight people because they are lazy and stupid. I have been in the IT field for over 20 years doing production work and as an educator. I have seen the full gamut of personality, intellectual and physical traits with the people I work with, buy from, and train. We are all types. While I agree it is unfortunate to we are not equally represented, we all bring our unique skills/traits to the game. Let us accept responsibility for our own personal choices and not make excuses for the choices of others.
You do not ban the "Booth Babes" - you allow the company to demonstrate their attitude toward the customers; then you walk up and talk to the "Lady" at the booth - and if she can demonstrate she is knowledgeable on the subject, that is obviously the company you want to purchase from. If she cannot explain their product, and is obviously just "window dressing" for the booth - then you allow her to make a living in the only way she knows how, and you move on to the next booth . Simple, efficient, and not prejudicial !
As will be clear from the voting (assuming it doesn't get rigged) this is a tempest in a tea pot.... Pretty girls are always appreciate by males....get over it. any man who "immediately goes to the male in the booth" is an idiot--rail against idiocy before you complain about the girls being pretty.. Wendy, surely there are more pressing issues in the world of IT then complaining about men liking to talk to pretty girls at conferences.... the voting will clarify the issue--- Be well....and employ booth babes...