Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

Sep 21 2010   2:11PM GMT

Sexism in IT: Still rampant after all these years?

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Whether you’ve been in IT for a short amount of time or a long amount of time, I am sure you are aware that IT has traditionally been viewed as a man’s world. I am proud to say that in my experience, times are changing, and especially in the channel. There are a number of highly ranked female execs in major companies, including Cisco’s Wendy Bahr, NetApp’s Julie Parrish, Brocade’s Barbara Spicek, plus dozens of others. Even in our organization at TechTarget —,,, and all have women at the helm.

Unfortunately, not all people in IT have moved along. Jimmy Ray Purser, a blogger for Network World, recently posted this blog post, titled “Who’s the HOTTEST video game chick?” I personally love how “hottest” is capitalized.

Besides the fact that this has nothing to do with networking and it’s a poorly written blog, it made me go “hmm” because of the underlying sexist vibe behind it. Note to Jimmy: Women don’t like being called chicks. (Though in his defense, I guess he only called a couple of fictional characters “chicks.”)

But that isn’t even as blatantly sexist as this Network World post from Michael Morris, titled “Hottest Booth Girl,”, equipped with photos and captions.

“But, based on the votes from the expert panel of judges (ok, just the geeks on my team) the winner of this year’s Hottest Booth Girl Contest goes to Bluecat Networks for the race car girls. These ladies were definitely too tall for me (not that that matters at all!). 🙂 ”

So the “geeks on his team” wandered Cisco Live combing for the “hottest booth girls” they could find. I don’t know what’s worse — that this guy is blogging about it, or that Lancope paid two busty Asian women to don ninja “outfits” (I use the term loosely… the term outfit infers that the body is actually covered) to attract men to the booth.

Come on, people. This is IT — it’s not a bikini car show. And I am NOT a prude. I do musical theater — we prance around in lingerie on stage all the time. I have no problem with scantily clad women being where scantily clad women are expected — I don’t expect to see Katy Perry wearing a full business suit when she performs at the VMAs. Bring on the “Daisy Dukes and bikinis on top.” But I also don’t expect to walk up to a Bluecat booth when I’m working and be towered over by two semi-naked models dressed like race car drivers hired to attract men with their “assets.” It makes me not want to hear anything Bluecat has to say.

For the record, I have never been leered at or treated inappropriately at a channel conference. The only time that has happened is at non-channel conferences, and I’m starting to understand why. And I would have the same issues with it if vendors hired semi-naked gorgeous men to do the same thing.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from both ladies and gents. Have you seen workplace sexism, or been the victim of it? Do you think it’s something we should just learn to deal with, or do you think it’s disappeared? Send me an email at

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