Women in Tech – I am not a booth babe, Ask me a question


It’s a sad fact that women still only account for around 30% of the total technology workforce and, in many quarters, the role of women in tech industry trade shows and the like is still viewed more as an eye-candy factor rather than anything to do with providing technical expertise.

Most woman in technology who’ve worked a trade show booth will no doubt have experienced being bypassed by a man who is “looking to talk to someone technical”, on the assumption that the woman is there purely to serve as “eye candy” and/or to restock the giveaway shelves.

i-am-not-a-booth-babe-pin-customThis perceived role of women as ‘booth babes’ at these industry events has recently been in the limelight, culminating in a simple campaign to challenge the dated stereotype of women in tech. It was kicked off by Jennifer Gill, director of global product marketing at Zerto and a 15-year veteran of the tech industry, who suggested a button for female staff members to wear at tech events which simply reads – “I am not a both babe. Ask me a question“.

As with all neat ideas, the concept quickly expanded, with VMware blogger Hans de Leenheer printing buttons in different colors to hand out at tech shows. Now, women from various technology companies are wearing the buttons with pride, creating considerable buzz and subsequent discussion, both technical and button-related. The artwork has even been posted to a special website www.iamnotaboothbabe.com so “women don’t need to hunt us down to get a button.” <source>

Personally, I believe this excellent idea is a great way to help raise awareness and subtly challenge the traditional perception of women in tech. Can women cut it with men in the tech field? You betchya they can! During my years involved with DCT I’ve encountered many women whose technological knowledge and expertise have been second to none. And I’m proud to say that we have equal gender numbers among our team of experts – 3 men and 3 ladies.


Judy is an expert on all things Mac and iOS, if anyone knows more about Apple products than Judy, I’ve yet to come across them. Sherri devotes much of her time to teaching others how to work with and be comfortable with computers and technology. And Carol is one of the foremost Microsoft Office experts on the planet.

Go you girls!

 

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

8 Comments

  1. Yeah!!!! It is funny my husband has degrees in Computer Science & Business Management. My degree is in Criminal Justice. I am the business owner with the computer business. He is old school COBOL, FORTRAN…I think many men hesitate to ask a woman computer questions. I am the first to admit though when I do not know something I tell folks, “I have access to a wealth of knowledge I will get the answer & get back to you.” Thank Heaven for DCT! proud to be a part of it.

  2. It’s a pity woman are viewed that way (eye-candy). But when I went to school, almost all tech studies were guys only. It would of been refreshing to have females in the class, Mindblower!

    • Thanks Mindblower for saying that. Many professions are either female or male dominated but times they are a changing. When I went to school there were predominantly female teachers, now many men make the choice to teach. I was also in Law Enforcement & do side jobs, I am a minority there. However, I can think of some men that are eye candy too! I would’ve loved to have been in class with you as a classmate.

      Cheers

      • There’s a big problem here in Canada, in grade schools, where male teachers are almost non-extinct. Seems the pay is the big reason male teachers opt out, but from the salary range I hear, that’s crazy, Mindblower!

  3. Some day, I am confident, everyone will recall that “technology” includes rocks lashed to sticks. Hence ,”women in tech” means nothing more significant, linguistically speaking, than women using human-made tools.

    When this miraculous realization occurs, all those who now use the “tech” meme as shorthand for “new and shiny tools we like” will realize that such usage makes them sound like language-deficient drones. The “T” in STEM, for this reason, is only there to make the acronym more palatable than SEM.

    “Technology” includes words. Consistently, however, those in the SEM fields fail to use this one crucial human artifact. the one far more sophisticated than any other than humans manufacture.

  4. Maybe it’s me or….
    Most times when I contact technical support, either by phone or in chat, I usualy have a woman on the other end. I’ve run into this with Best Buy, HP, Epson, McAfee and Microsoft. It’s probably like 3 – 1 women over men for me.
    Now, that may be well due to simple economics. Women usualy get paid less so a tech company trying to save money will hire 2 -3 women rather than 1 man. I have never had a problem that the women have not been able to help me with.

    • I just thought of something…
      My e-mail address has “sandra” in it so maybe they think I’m a woman and therefore have a woman answer.

  5. I think it’s a silly idea. I’ve been to many trade shows and there are certainly better ways to distinguish oneself than to wear a goofy button. Besides, the button is a bit condescending to the other women who are there for various support reasons.