Show us your booths

Booth Babes are out, hot recruiters still all the rage

Natali Vlatko

Posing image via Shutterstock

RSA Conference organisers have cracked down on so-called “booth babes” in a bid to stamp out the harassment and sexism that often occurs at expo-style events. Pretty-on-purpose recruiters are just adding fuel to the fire.

This year’s RSA Conference will feature a notable absence from the once-dominant ‘eye-candy’ of conferences gone past: Booth babes. A new set of dress rules have been published, and while they aim to be gender neutral, we all know its the girls being asked to cover up.

Liquidmatrix Security Digest broke the news by publishing new details that’ve been added to exhibitor contracts for the 2015 conference, which asks that expo staff ensure that their attire is “considered appropriate in a professional environment”.

Would you wear that in the office?

Essentially, the amendments to the RSA contracts are hoping to once and for all eliminate the stereotypical booth babes that are prevalent at every expo. Vendors and exhibitors hire women to wear skimpy clothing and basically flutter around the showroom floor in the name or their brand or product.

The new rules now state that “attire of an overly revealing or suggestive nature is not permitted”. Examples of such are listed as follows:

  • Tops displaying excessive cleavage
  • Tank tops, halter tops, camisole tops or tube tops
  • Miniskirts or minidresses
  • Shorts
  • Lycra (or other Second-Skin) bodysuits
  • Objectionable or offensive costumes

The guidelines are targeted toward all booth staff regardless of gender, however, some of the items listed above are very rarely found in the Men’s Department. Either way, the rules will be “strictly enforced”, with offenders kicked out if believed to be in breach of the new decree.

While a number of prominent trade shows have moved towards outright banning the booth babe practice, the gaming industry in particular has seen its fair share of backlash regarding the whole thing. Tina Amini, Deputy Editor at Kotaku, documented the creepiness that several female journalists experienced at E3, the biggest gaming convention on the calendar.

Unfortunately, stories like this are often accompanied by hateful kobolds spitting forth their bile, telling the ladies who’ve spoken out about their experiences to harden up. Whatever, man.

Tech recruiters are looking (literally) better

In the same vein, the tech industry is still trying to cling to what they feel is an asset in the area of recruitment: attractiveness. Author, tech guy and recruiting guru Dave Fecak has written a bit about this phenomenon, noticing the trend in hiring the young and beautiful to fulfill the recruitment quota:

You would need to be blind not to notice that tech recruiting firms are now tending to hire young and attractive female rookie recruiters, which is an obvious strategy (similar to the so-called “booth babes” at trade shows) to get the attention of the predominantly male tech audience.

Unlike the latest attempt to abolish the booth babe practice, Fecak states that “some of the LinkedIn recruiter profile photos border on racy, and perhaps sad”, hinting that the popularity of such a tactic has yet to wane in the recruiting world.

Much akin to the purpose of booth babes, Fecak insists that techies should be looking for a recruiter who shows curiosity in their goals before trying to push every job on you.

His final question can also be seen as reflective for punters out there perusing the booths at the next tech conference: Is the recruiter (or vendor or staff member) even paying attention to what you’re saying? Or are you just focusing on their booths?


Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

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