Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security

RSA Conference Bans "Booth Babes" 326

netbuzz writes In what may be a first for the technology industry, RSA Conference 2015 next month apparently will be bereft of a long-controversial trade-show attraction: "booth babes." New language in its exhibitor contract, while not using the term 'booth babe," leaves no doubt as to what type of salesmanship RSA wants left out of its event. Says a conference spokeswoman: "We thought this was an important step towards making all security professionals feel comfortable and equally respected during the show." Easier at a venue like RSA; the annual Consumer Electronics Show, not so much.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

RSA Conference Bans "Booth Babes"

Comments Filter:
  • Bummer (Score:5, Funny)

    by Holi ( 250190 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:38PM (#49348505)
    Whats the use in going now?
    • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:45PM (#49348593) Homepage

      Well, playing spot the fed can still be fun, as would setting up fake hotspots and phishing people.

      It's a security conference, which means tons of targets with no clue about security. ;-)

      • They're the ones over in the NSA booth, showing off the cool Enigma machine, and handing out other spook agency trinkets. Sometimes other groups of Feds are there (Homeland Security or whoever), and they don't understand that, unlike the NSA who are evil but cool, they're evil but not cool.

    • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:48PM (#49348617)

      Actually they can still have booth babes they just need to look professional. Personally a beautiful woman tastefully dressed is more of a turn on than the slutty look anyway.

      • Re:Bummer (Score:4, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:53PM (#49348681)
        "Slutty"? How dare you prescribe how other people should dress and feel about themselves...
        • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

          by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:57PM (#49348727)

          I didn't prescribe, I described.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          How dare you put a negative connotation on "slutty".

        • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Funny)

          by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:04PM (#49348807) Homepage Journal

          How dare you oppress me and my right as a man to be slutty.

      • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:00PM (#49348755)

        Actually they can still have booth babes they just need to look professional. Personally a beautiful woman tastefully dressed is more of a turn on than the slutty look anyway.

        I know you mean well, but you're completely missing the point.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 )

          Actually they can still have booth babes they just need to look professional. Personally a beautiful woman tastefully dressed is more of a turn on than the slutty look anyway.

          I know you mean well, but you're completely missing the point.

          He missed the point, but he did not mean well. That's why we can't have nice things.

          • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

            by schnell ( 163007 ) <me@@@schnell...net> on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:22PM (#49351179) Homepage

            He missed the point, but he did not mean well. That's why we can't have nice things.

            I think the response unintentionally betrays sexism but at its root merits a direct response. At least to me, the whole "booth babes" thing is pretty simple.

            Human beings like the "OOOOH SHINY." It distracts and engages us, even if it is not necessarily going to lead us to buy something as a result, but it does cause us to want to stop and engage our attention. The same is true whether it's a person, a free popcorn machine, a magic show or a huge display TV.

            If you are a heterosexual male, an attractive woman is OOOOH SHINY. This is regardless of the state of her (un)dress, technical acumen, or anything else. It could be a stripper draped around a pole or Marissa Mayer in a smart business suit. You will have an involuntary response and may be "turned on." But the real question of how people react to this is one of intent.

            Nobody seriously objects to the presence of attractive humans in almost any context. The objection comes from those who are made uncomfortable with the presence of people who are there (and dressed so as to make this obvious) solely for the purpose of eliciting that OOOOH SHINY MUST STARE AT BREASTS reaction.

            Some men will ask, so "what is wrong with that?" which, unlike what many progressive/feminist-minded men think, is not an inherently offensive question to ask. To me, the first answer of course is that it is unprofessional unless you are at a swimwear or porn conference. But the issue most people will react to - knee-jerk, positively or negatively - is one of sexism.

            Is this something to be offended about or not? For me, the simple test for me is for you - assuming you are a heterosexual male - to imagine walking around a tradeshow where most of the exhibits had buff, oiled-up dudes in speedos standing in front of the booths in Speedos. Would this make you in any way uncomfortable, want to avert your eyes or not want to stand next to them in that booth? If yes, then you need to put yourself in women's shoes and understand the objection to booth babes. If no, then, okay, you can make a straight-faced argument that there's nothing to be offended about. But that still will not prevent others from having a different reaction.

        • Re:Bummer (Score:4, Interesting)

          by eepok ( 545733 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:22PM (#49348983) Homepage

          He's missing the point and still explaining an issue.

          RSA doesn't want to promote the objectification of women any more.
          Vendors are still willing to objectify women to have a chance at winning business.

          So, let's say that hire and train those who would otherwise be hired as booth babes so that they're useful temporary representatives of products and companies. Let's say they show up dressed in business or business casual attire. And let's say a man goes to one of these conferences, see a beautiful woman, finds out she's a knowledgeable associate in the industry, and continues to ogle her for her secondary sexual characteristics while she convinces him to try some products.

          Is any wrong done? If so, are you saying that attractive women are not allowed to represent a company or product?

          • So, let's say that hire and train those who would otherwise be hired as booth babes so that they're useful temporary representatives of products and companies. Let's say they show up dressed in business or business casual attire.

            Blasphemy!

            Seriously, when you first went to one of these conferences, wasn't your first assumption to walk up to them and ask about the vendor's product; and then when they didn't know anything about it, say to yourself, "Why would they just come here and hang around at a vendor's booth when they can't talk to people about the product? Couldn't they get paid just as well doing something less stultifying?"

          • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

            by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:33PM (#49349117)

            Maybe he thinks he can change human nature. Women don't really even have to be all that attractive to have an effect on men. Just the right personality and a sweet smile can do wonders to a man. Yes, I know she is not going to blow me but really I'm happy just to be in the same room with someone who's very presence works on the pleasure centers of my brain. I doubt it would cause me to buy a product but it will cause me to listen to what she has to say.

          • > Vendors are still willing to objectify women to have a chance at winning business.

            ...and certain women are willing to be objectified (at least a little bit) for money.

            > If so, are you saying that attractive women are not allowed to represent a company or product?

            That appears to be the case, yes. No fun allowed here.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          I got the point but....men are men and most men are turned on by women. I've worked with beautiful or even just not ugly women and I was never once unaware that they were women. I treated them with respect and acted professional but often it took some real self control. People selling or promoting things are aware of this fact and will take advantage of it. Some men have less self control and their brain will almost totally shut down which does make this practice worthwhile.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            The entire "booth babe" thing is rather pathetic - a step below being desperate enough to pay to see strippers that reveal less than you would see at the beach.
            It's a cynical sales trick that shows a vendor is not taking the visitors seriously.
            Yes, they may be cute, but if you are going there to see cute girls instead of elsewhere then something is screwed up.
        • Actually they can still have booth babes they just need to look professional. Personally a beautiful woman tastefully dressed is more of a turn on than the slutty look anyway.

          I know you mean well, but you're completely missing the point.

          You beat me to it. I was going to ask "What part of 'turn on' did you not understand?"

      • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday March 26, 2015 @05:07PM (#49349439) Homepage Journal

        Personally a beautiful woman tastefully dressed is more of a turn on than the slutty look anyway.

        I guess it's different because I pay for conferences out of my own pocket, but I'm not going to go to all the hassle and expense of attending an Expo to waste my time at a vendor booth which spends its marketing dollars on objectifying women. The women may be there of their own free will and the whole arrangement may be perfectly morally straight (for the sake of argument), but the vendor is clearly disrespecting its customers' intelligence, and that itself makes me feel uncomfortable and want to avoid their booth.

        Each time I've experienced the 'booth babe' phenomenon, never once did any of them know what an ARP reply was or how many key exchanges TLS modes use. This isn't a matter of nerd-quiz, it's that talking to them serves no purpose for why I go to an expo.

        While several I've encountered have been both nice and pretty, I never once imagined that I was going to scurry off to a corner to make out with one or that they might suddenly provide useful product information, so a polite smile, the briefest of small-talk to let them know that I value them as a human being, and a thank-you and I was on to the next booth to talk to a sales engineer. Did the booth-babe vendor have something useful to sell me? Maybe, but I only have so much time, and this wasn't why I was there. I don't care if the sales engineer has a spare tire and a scraggly mustache, because I'm not there to make out with him (or her) either.

        That booth babes is a thing tells me a few things: 1) target customers don't get to talk to pretty women much unless they're being paid (Jesus people, try being kind and friendly for a change) 2) target customers are mostly there blowing their employers' budgets on a half-assed vacation and don't really care about the cost or value, and 3) they probably play the Lottery and go to strip clubs too, for all their investment is worth (but I guess they have nothing better to do).

        There would be no booth babes if they didn't provide value, and that they do is an indictment of the crowd attending. RSA might be putting up a roadblock, but the industry only needs to look itself in the mirror if it wants to find someone to blame. Stop being creepy and get a girlfriend, people.

    • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:51PM (#49348645)

      For the conference? If you only go for the women, then you should visit other venues which are better suited for staring at women.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's sad when ugly women are allowed to take jobs away from pretty women simply because they are pretty.

  • Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Booth Babes" are sexist (against both men and women, might I add), and is completely inappropriate.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Agreed!

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:56PM (#49348707)
      While I think they're unprofessional, but to call them "sexist" is diluting the word to mean "anything you don't like."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Minupla ( 62455 )

      Hopefully RSA carries this over to their booths at other conferences. They were often among the worst offenders at Blackhat.

      Min

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:14PM (#49348885) Homepage Journal

      I feel like this is going in the opposite direction. Instead of getting rid of booth babes, why not just convince a few vendors to also have cut men in muscle t-shirts and tight spandex pants. Then you provide candy to both men and women; straight and gay.

    • What's wrong with being sexy?
    • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:52PM (#49349307) Journal

      Me neither.

      The new solution is still sexist.
      It's just that this is the kind of sexism that is culturally acceptable at the moment.

      A situation where one person can get a job based on a genetic flip of a coin, followed by a genetic role of the dice that lands one with a fashionable appearance - while others are disregarded based on the genetic flip of the coin alone.

      You know... When sex of the person is a disqualifying trait on a job application - and it is not a job opening in a strip-bar.
      It's the same exact thing that makes "housewife" an acceptable "career choice" for a woman, while the same "career" choice for a man doesn't even have a noun of its own.
      It is instead described with pejorative terms ranging from "henpecked" and "timid" to "pussywhipped".

      It's culturally acceptable sexism.
      No different than a burka - for women who consider that a part of their culture.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:43PM (#49348563)

    The real booth babes aren't on the floor at RSA. Go to the vendors' afterparties, or check out around in one of the creepy "party busses" prowling the city during RSA and you'll see where vendors have diverted their "women for hire" budgets.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      vendors' afterparties...around in one of the creepy "party busses" prowling the...

      Do you have to put it in such negative terms? That really drains the fun from my visits there ... I mean my friend's visit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The real booth babes aren't on the floor at RSA. Go to the vendors' afterparties, or check out around in one of the creepy "party busses" prowling the city during RSA and you'll see where vendors have diverted their "women for hire" budgets.

      I've been to a good number of vendor after parties at RSA, and have not experienced what you imply here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Creepy". Isn't that one of those sexist words that misandrists use to describe male sexuality?

      The shaming here is particularly amazing because it seems to be coming from men. Good boy. You're going to make your mistress a good little houseboy. Now get back to work and earn her some money. And leave the masculinity to the "creepy" guys.

      • "Creepy". Isn't that one of those sexist words that misandrists use to describe male sexuality?

        they aren't misandrists, they're misanthropes. They hate everyone, including themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What, were they wearing nothing but a key-pair? I'd factor that modulus, if you know what I mean.

    I mean, I'd steal her keys.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:45PM (#49348585) Homepage
    I can't remember where I saw it, but someone did a study comparing booth babes to trained senior citizens and the senior citizens did MUCH better job, resulting in greater sales and great callbacks.

    The conclusion was that Booth Babes brings traffic - who don't end up buying, while blocking the people that are actually interested in your product.

  • Booth Bros! Time for shirtless male body builders in front of every booth.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:55PM (#49348697)

    How is this a first? The most recent PAX banned booth babes. Also MacWorld did a while ago... I'm pretty sure there are other examples, including lots of smaller technical conferences.

    The surprise to me is that an RSA conference even HAD booth babes.

    I have mixed feeling about this, it seems discriminatory against the good looking... however it always was kind of pointless, and annoying to have people at a booth that didn't know much about whatever the booth was promoting.

    The funny(?) thing is that as this movement ratchets down into conferences everywhere, it will probably mean a rise in the number of women turning to literal, instead of figurative, prostitution to make a living.

    • I have mixed feeling about this, it seems discriminatory against the good looking...

      How so? Good looking people can still sell from a booth, they just need to be appropriately dressed.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        A dress code? Okay.
        Frankly Booth Babes never worked for me.
        Whenever I see one I just think, "We both know I am not going to sleep with you so why are you flirting with me... Oh to scam me...."

      • How so? Good looking people can still sell from a booth

        Good looking people can of course be in any role.

        However at least some former booth babes are models that really can't do things other than look good. Since they would not be good in an informational role, they would not be hired.

        Like I said, better for attendees in some ways as at least you can talk to someone more about the product. But not as good for the women (and men) now out of work.

    • Not everyone at a booth needs to know about the product. I was at a conference years ago where some network-security firm was hawking some box, and they had a huge booth with a tent where they had people come in and watch some little video-enhanced skit involving a dragon. They had a couple of booth babes somewhat scantily-clad, in keeping with the castles-and-dragons theme, but they were only really there to be ushers while people waited in line to go in and watch the next show. Ushers don't need to kno

  • by sampson7 ( 536545 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:03PM (#49348787)

    Like many of you out there, I never personally experienced these issues (being a white male). And I actually like looking at pretty girls. But at what cost? Folks should recognize that there's a vast literature out there about the impacts of both conscious and unconscious bias in testing, hiring and performance of minorities and women in STEM fields. Things like Booth Babes drive people away. For those of you interested, it is illuminating to read about the weird ways in which the human brain internalizes various societal cues about how women and minorities fit into STEM. Anyone who wants to comment on this topic seriously should at least read through this research:

    * Book - "Whistling Vivaldi," written by Claude Steele . Professor Steele isn't the best writer in the world, but the experiments he describes are just fascinating. I challenge anyone to look at his results and not refine their views on these issue. Nice mix of pop-psychology and scientific research. http://www.amazon.com/Whistlin... [amazon.com]

    * Planet Money Podcast - "When Women Stopped Coding", very much pop-psychology, but thoroughly entertaining and I certainly found some basic truth in their theory. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money... [npr.org]

    * Article in the journal "Nature" on what the GRE test actually measures, http://www.nature.com/naturejo... [nature.com] Also see a partial refutation of the initial (which I found less convincing, but I put it out there anyway): http://www.nature.com/nature/j... [nature.com]

    * Recent pop-science article citing a meta-analysis about "Genius" in male and female professors (interesting, if somewhat anecdotal): http://www.vox.com/2015/2/12/8... [vox.com]

    Reading this research (even at the cursory level pop-science perspective) certainly got me thinking about women (and minorities) in STEM. Personally, it turned me from a skeptic of the type of program Intel is purposing into .... well, I'm not entirely sure. Read the research and I think you'll see what I mean.

    Apologies for bringing actual science to what I'm sure will turn into a flame war..... (Complete disclosure: I posed something similar a few weeks ago, but it's such interesting stuff, I posted it again!)

  • by Steffan ( 126616 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:14PM (#49348887)

    The purpose of 'Booth Babes' is to attract customers, presumably men to the booth. Whether this is an effective strategy is a separate discussion.
    It's human nature, and attempts to circumvent it are trivially overcome.

    Exhibitors that are currently using this approach can hire the same models and dress them in 'Business-appropriate' attire. The end result is you will still have beautiful women (who may know nothing about the product) staffing a booth and bringing in men.

    If anything, this will provide more plausible deniability for more image-conscious men who don't wish to be seen chatting up some lyra- and latex- clad contractor at a booth.

    I suppose if that become too troublesome, they can always ban makeup or attractive staffers (of both sexes). Or require that contractors be able to talk knowledgeably about the product.

    I'm not criticizing their approach, per se, but I suspect even after these changes there will be continued outrage about the disproportionally attractive women staffing some booths and being paid to be chatty or even flirty.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I suppose if that become too troublesome, they can ... require that contractors be able to talk knowledgeably about the product.

      This would be a great idea! Just make the requirement be that anyone staffing a booth be able to describe the contents of the material they're presenting. This wouldn't prevent really smart contracted booth babes, but it would prevent what I've encountered a few times... when I go up to a booth and ask a technical detail and get a panicked look followed by a "let me go find Ted...." or a blank smile and a "I think you'll find the information you need in one of these brochures...."

  • TFA quotes the RSA test which states: "These guidelines are applicable to all booth staff, regardless of gender"

    I wonder why they didn't include Cowboy chaps and codpieces, but maybe that's not a big issue on the floor.

  • Boycott RSA, my ankles need to breath! ;)
  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:16PM (#49348919)

    But I can't resist a flashback to a 1980s Wendy's commercial:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Very nice...

  • <snark>

    Oh yeah? Fine! I'll just have to boycott this year's RSA conference, for taking away my eye candy! Boooooycott! Boooooycott! Boooooycott!

    What's that? Have I ever attended one before? Well... no, but what's that got to do with anything?
    </snark>

  • by punkr0x ( 945364 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @04:24PM (#49349003)
    Why is this "easier" at RSA? Sounds like the submitter prefers to have a boner when attending a trade show.
  • tomorrow's email from management:

    "The good news is removing attractive models from the event is positive progress for our society. The bad new is that we already bought the skimpy outfits for the models, so now you have to wear them."

    • tomorrow's email from management:

      "The good news is removing attractive models from the event is positive progress for our society. The bad new is that we already bought the skimpy outfits for the models, so now you have to wear them."

      If there is one truth in the world, it's this: Nobody wants to see me in hot pants.

  • As everyone dumps CS education in favor of marketing and MBAs. And selling used cars.

  • Never mind, I'll just read the literature and save myself a plane ride.

  • There are fewer and fewer places they can seek out employment now!

    Now that they're banned from game companies, security companies, electronics companies, where can a dedicated, professional booth babe find employment?

    Won't someone please think of the babes?
    Babes are people too!

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @05:07PM (#49349433)

    This won't change. Sex sells.

  • How sad. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Checkered Daemon ( 20214 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @07:47PM (#49350653)

    I have this friend. She's blond, six foot, blue eyes, loves wearing five inch heels, and is a bit of an exhibitionist. Gorgeous. Loves dressing up. She also has a BS in computer science and a master's degree in mathematcs. She works conventions as a 'booth babe' for fun. Her stories about tearing into some dork who thinks she's just some dumb blonde are priceless. Shame to spoil her fun.

  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @08:21PM (#49350799) Homepage Journal

    When I went to Winter NAMM back in 2010 or 2011 (can't remember any more), very few booths had "booth babes". There were plenty of women there who knew what they were selling, and some of them dressed up for the occasion while others did not. (Some of the guys wore suits while others wore cutoffs and sandals, too.) Nobody had a problem with this.

    That would be my simple defining line. If they know enough to answer questions helpfully, they're legitimate employees no matter how they're dressed or which gender they are. If they don't, then they're hangers-on in some capacity. This is not necessarily a problem, but hangers-on should not be used as eyecandy. If the vendor's kids are milling around, and dressed up in an eye-catching way, this is not a problem. It makes some level of sense that they'd be there, even if they don't really know the business aspect. What should be deemed a problem is hiring random people specifically for the event solely because they're good looking. If they're both good looking and adequately trainable as to be decent sales reps, more power to them.

  • It's the clothing. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by XB-70 ( 812342 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @12:01AM (#49351911)
    Back in the '80s, at the Bobbin Show in Atlanta, one exhibitor hired a booth babe of ... extraordinary ... proportions.

    She was clad in: a very tight-fitting (and extremely stretched) t-shirt, disco shorts, socks and roller-skates.

    Competitors complained and show management advised the exhibitor that:

    A) She had to stop roller-skating around the show and

    B) She had to add an item of clothing.

    Next day, she showed up in the identical outfit more clearly outlined by a set of suspenders!

Computer programs expand so as to fill the core available.

Working...