NetRegistry have raised some ire in some parts by having women dressed as nurses on their stand at CeBIT in Sydney. In some ways this all takes me back to the bad old days when IT was a blokey world and scantily clad women were commonplace at conferences and exhibitions.
I had a chat to Jonathan Crossfield earlier today. He explained that their booth at CeBIT has a medical theme. I do not imply any malice, nor any intent to cause offence with this stunt. It simply looks like the team thought it would be fun to dress up as medical folks while they worked the booth at CeBIT. Funnily enough one of my first questions was “is the doctor a man?” and he admitted that the person dressed as a doctor was indeed a man. This made me wonder about unconscious sexism in our society.
The unconscious sexism & misogyny that remains prevalent in our society continues to fascinate me. And I think that the automatic (and probably unselfconscious) assignment of roles in this case is an example.
But let’s consider a few other things …
- We are currently in the midst of revelations about systemic demeaning behaviour towards women – especially in relation to rugby league.
- There have been ongoing allegations of demeaning behaviour towards women by male sporting team members.
- The calendars featuring scantily clad women and similar that used to decorate workplaces have disappeared.
- Conferences & exhibitions are places of business to which women have free access nowadays.
- Governments and volunteer organisations have put enormous effort into encouraging women to enter the ICT industry, and to retaining those already there.
I don’t think this kind of marketing exercise is a good idea in general, nor in particular for a conference/exhibition (doesn’t pass the Mum test). Further, the day after the Four Corners program about the alleged sexual abuse of women it was bad timing (probably unintentionally so).
But, for the record, there were similar poster in the NetRegistry booth at CeBIT – is there a pattern here? It makes me ponder what the outcry would be if this was an equivalent racial depiction?