So my husband works in the IT industry and I work in the television/video industry.
Both of these industries suffer a similar problem: inequality of numbers of women employed in the industry. IT has a worse situation in this regard.
In both cases, if you go to conferences, companies are pandering to this inequality by employing "booth babes" to draw in customers.
Although the IT industry industry claims to WANT more women employed...I have to wonder...as WHAT?
At a recent conference that my husband attended, he told me about an event where companies had 3 minutes to sell themselves and grab attention. Some of these companies only heard the"grab attention" part. One company put a belly dancer on stage. Another company dressed the female marketing staff up in sexy schoolgirl outfits. My question to these women- why do you agree to this? Buying into the idea that women's place in the industry is to get men to take notice of the company they represent- well, you might as just well accept the idea that the company is your pimp, and they are prostituting you out at conferences.
At the last video conference I attended, I experimented with how long/whether I would be talked to. The majority of the time, I was not approached--even though my badge indicated that I was a production company owner...meaning I may have buying ability. I DID feel slighted. When my male friend accompanied me at booths, he was approached. Even though he has no need to buy equipment at all- he is in film distribution.
I like to tell myself that sexism in 2014 is in people's imaginations. But it IS real. For all of the women in ANY industry, the use of "booth babes", and the related practices or "marketing initiatives", sends a message: that women remain outsiders. Even InfoComm president, David Labuskes, agrees, saying that the practice "creates an environment that is unwelcome for some (and) that perpetuates 'old school thinking'."
Women need to stand up for themselves- and their industry- and discourage these practices. They need to do better PR for themselves. Publicize their accomplishments to raise their standings. And we all need to work harder to not whine about inequality - but to prove that women are deserving and fully capable of doing the same kind of work, at the same level (or better!) than our male counterparts in our industry.