April 01, 2010 | by Emily Fearnley
"Booth Babes" can be defined in a few ways - promotional models, scantily clad women encouraging attendees to stop and buy, or poor attractive girls being objectified by the males around them. However you categorize a booth babe, these enticing women tend to reveal the sexism in the trade show industry.
When asked to describe their experiences, booth babes generally have the same responses. Besides dealing with the grueling 10-hour days on your feet, often in heels, many women have to deal with being groped, being spoken to inappropriately, and stares that would make your skin crawl.
If the above reasons are not blatant examples of sexism, then I don't know what is. Although a healthy level of rudeness would be acceptable to put men who step over their boundaries in line, many of these promotional models are too polite to do so. They are also hired for the trade shows to sell or promote products, so being rude (even to put some one in their place) is not the best tactic for selling.
The fact that booth babes are proven to grab attention and get people into the booth makes is easy to see why companies hire these attractive women. But the real question is, do the companies do anything to protect or prepare these women for potentially dangerous or abusive situations? How do the companies ensure the women's safety and comfort during a trade show?
I have the feeling that many businesses hire booth babes and promotional models without making sure that they know how to deal with some one who is speaking or acting inappropriately towards them. It almost seems as though many booth babes are treated as objects, similar to the ones that they often promote. This sexism appears to be rising within the trade show industry as more and more booth babes are being hired each year.
On the contrary, many men state that using booth babes to promote products is sexist towards males. There are men that feel patronized by the fact that many companies assume using booth babes will force all logical and rational thought out of the male attendees' minds in the presence of an attractive women, leaving them more inclined to buy the product.
Now, on the defense of the male species everywhere, a great body and long blonde hair do not dumbfound all men. However, attractive women do easily distract the majority of men that I know, and their brains tend to turn into temporary mush. With that being said, companies should not assume that all male attendees will drop everything and run towards a booth babe, but there definitely are those that will.
It seems that booth babes reveal sexism within the trade show industry on both sides. Women feel that booth babes are degrading to other women, just as men feel that booth babes are degrading men by stereotyping them. It's a lose-lose situation. So why use them?
Although considering the degradation of both sexes at trade shows is important, doing business and selling your product is more important to companies apparently. Booth babes do bring people to your booth, and you will most likely make more sales. That's the fact, as sad as that may be for men and women everywhere.