When you hear the words “cyber expo” or “tech fair”, the first three things usually come to most people’s minds are:
- There’ll be plenty of high-tech gadgets at that event
- There’ll be plenty of men/boys in that event
- There’ll be plenty of promo girls in skimpy clothing in that event.
I love tech fairs and cyber expos because I love my tech. I may not be able to afford the latest laptop, phone or any other gadget out there but I like to window shop. I like knowing about the latest trends and these events can be very educational if you ask the right questions.
It kind of bothers me that most of the people who attend events like these are men or boys but I’ve come to accept it. We Filipinos live in a patriarchal, macho culture where men are expected to be better in math, logic, and computers. I don’t mind it that much anymore because I know the tide is changing with more and more women and girls showing off their tech chops.
What bothers me about these events are the promo girls. Why get promo girls who know nothing about the product? And worse, why get promo girls who do nothing but stand there, barely clothed, to be ogled, objectified, and harassed by men? What does that say about our Filipino tech culture?
For me, it says a lot of things. As a woman, I’m insulted. This is a community where I expect to find the most intelligent and most enlightened men in my generation. Why do they treat women this way in these events? Does this mean that subconsciously, they don’t see us as equals? Do they still see women as objects, decorative items to display? That we’re only good enough to be seen and not heard? And we’re only worth seeing if we’re hot?
As a mother, I’m disturbed. I know these promo girls are probably talented and intelligent in their own right. Why do they allow themselves to be treated that way? And why to these “boys” treat these women that way? Don’t they have mothers? Didn’t their mothers teach them that women should be treated with respect? Don’t these men realize that these women are also daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers? I wouldn’t want any family member to be treated like a stupid, sex object. If the people in these events are smart, why do they treat women like they’re stupid?
Lastly, as a professional, I’m outraged. I hate it when a computer technician talks down on me like I’m an idiot because simply because I’m a woman.
“Ma’am do you know what a processor is?”
“Yes, I know what a processor is. In fact, I can install it myself. I was going to buy your best and most expensive processor but if you think I’m too dumb to use it then I’d rather not buy from you.”
“Ma’am, are you sure you want to play this online game? Girls find it really hard to play.”
“I’m not a girl, I’m a woman. I have two hands and a working brain. If you find that hard to understand then I think you’ll find that game hard to play too.”
“Ma’am, that camera is better because it’s more expensive.”
“No, that camera is better because it has better specs and it’s cheaper. If you think that other one is better because it’s more expensive, then you have no idea what you’re selling and you don’t know how to do your job.”
Women make up half of the world’s population. Throughout history, we’ve proven time and time again that we can rise to the challenge. In this day and age, I expect our brightest men to honor and value our worth. Haven’t we been partners in helping build the tech and IT communities all over the world? If they really see us as partners, why are women being treated this way in tech events?
If this community really cared for women and wanted to increase and diversify the ranks, they should start getting rid of these promo girls and start treating the women that come to these events as mental equals. We came to these events for the tech, not because we were forced by our husbands/boyfriends/partners. If we wanted to window shop for shoes, we wouldn’t be there.
Or if you can’t get rid of the promo girls, get us promo girls who know their tech PLUS cute promo boys as well. Give us our eye candy too! We want promo boys with abs, guns, and a dazzling smile that can make us swoon. We want pretty boys to hover over us while we play the latest MMO. We want cute men to flatter us into buying the latest heat sink. But most importantly, we want devastatingly handsome men wax poetic about the differences between solid state hard drive and hard disk hard drive laptops. Yes, we want our men smart and pretty. We have higher standards.