CeBIT is a 3-day conference which focuses on business technology and IT solutions, and is held every year in Australia. Companies exhibit at CeBIT, hoping to build brand awareness and promote their service offerings. This year, Australian domain name registration and web hosting company Netregistry tried a slightly different marketing tactic – and it’s one that’s making me sick.
Using a ‘medical’ theme to promote their web site health check service, Netregistry dressed female staff in quasi-nurse uniforms, and had them ask CeBIT attendees about the health of their websites. According to this article by ZDNet, Netregistry CEO Larry Bloch (@larrybloch on Twitter) has stated that
“There would have been female doctors if any of our sales people were female — but they’re not”
This is appalling on three levels;
Representation of women in ICT: Instead of having female consultants and sales staff with (presumably) the technical and interpersonal skills to analyse the health of a client’s website, instead models (employed for their looks, not for their intellectual capital) are used engage the (predominantly male) attendees of CeBIT.
Representation of the nursing profession: The nursing profession has worked long and hard to build an image of nurses built on trust, integrity and professional deportment. Placing women in nurses’ uniforms to sell website ‘health checks’ detracts not only from the image of women, but also from the image of nurses and the nursing profession.
Lack of female representation in sales roles: The question everyone is forgetting to ask is why there are no female sales staff at Netregistry? Oh woops, my bad – as a female why would I want to work for an organisation that so obviously doesn’t see women as professional and intelligent, but as eye candy to sell a service. Recruit me now.
No wonder I moved away from Netregistry for my web hosting some time ago. They were appalling then and things it seems haven’t changed.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t at CeBIT, I didn’t see the ‘nurses’ in question. But I didn’t have to…