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The sad thing about ‘booth babes’

Aug 04, 20112 mins
Data and Information Security

I’ve been to many security conferences where vendors felt the need to hire women to stand around their booth with their stuff hanging out. It may be entertaining, but it can speak poorly of the vendor.

I mention it because, while I’m not at Black Hat, I’m seeing tweets and photos suggesting the good folks at McAfee are doing the booth babe thing.

“Stay classy, McAfee,” one attendee tweeted.

Someone else commented on how “unfortunate” it was that McAfee couldn’t afford to buy its booth employees pants.

This is a tricky thing, because the booth babe tactic works. That’s why vendors do it. People linger around the booth longer, pretending that they’re looking at the fliers and the demos. I could tell you I’ve never done such a thing. But I would be telling a lie.

It’s not easy to turn away from a spectacle.

I do think it’s unfortunate, though. Women in security fight for the respect they deserve every day, and this stuff probably isn’t very helpful to them.

There’s also some unfairness, because you never see the male booth babes. There’s an argument to be had that a good spectacle should have some balance, so both sexes get something out of it.

Or, you could argue that it would be better to just try attracting people to your booth on the strength of your products and reputation.

You could argue that this stuff is OK at Black Hat because it’s “that kind of event.” But I see this stuff at RSA every year.

Barracuda in particular has had a habit of overdoing the booth babe thing, in my opinion. In fairness, though, they toned it down at the last two RSA shows.

Maybe I just don’t know how to have a good time. Maybe I need to lighten up.


I can say it’s in poor taste to set up your exhibit this way.

And you can tell me I’m a bore. In some ways, I guess I am.

–Bill Brenner

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