Michelle Laverick on “Booth Babes” in 2018

It seems like seeing “Booth Babes” at shows should be a relic of a Mad Men past. Something we look back at in dejected wonderment, that seems so incongruous with modernity that it must have come from another world entirely. At least, as someone who doesn’t go to many industry shows, that was my assumption.

Reading Michelle Laverick’s piece, it seems that sadly it’s still an issue. While companies like VMware “discourage” the use of professional talent to staff booths, it’s very telling that their language is more of a paternal scold than an outright prohibition. Some vendors will probably try to get around stricter language, but at least you’d have something firm in writing rather than the rather toothless discouragement.

I really appreciate Michelle sharing personal experience on the subject, and asking questions of companies who say they want to discourage this practice. Until stronger language and rules are put in place, such language only leads to tacit approval. Companies can’t claim to want diversity at their shows and in their workforce while allowing show practices that reflect the opposite.

Michelle Laverick comments:

I also recall the discomfort felt at bloggers table one year when John Troyer raised the issue. I made the point that there were no muscle men in little gold metallic hot-pants for the delectation of the gay men or heterosexual women who attended VMworld. My assertion was despite the event being heavily dominated by men, it does rather assume they are heterosexual.

Read more at: VMworld, Booth Babes, Models in the #MeToo Era

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.