Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Idea #2: Turning the perception tide for women in tech

I'd love to start a company that hires out college-age business, marketing and computer science majors to conferences.

I've been at CES the past two years (2007 and 2008) and while many booths conducted themselves professionally, I was surprised at the number of "booth babes" employed by even the big companies.

To be fair, many companies had live bands and a diverse blend of smiling marketers, men and women alike.

But sex obviously still sells, and nothing says "innovative tech" more than a vacuous blond in a tight-fitting company tee.

Enough. This is the 21st century, and women are tech consumers, too. Companies should stop hiring booth whores who aren't allowed to understand the finer points of their products.

Here's the beauty of matching young, fast-learning entrepreneurs with companies:

  • assuming the college program had a rigorous selection process, companies would be assured of receiving excellent, high-caliber volunteers
  • these conference booths are often staffed by the product leads and execs themselves, giving the students a unique mentorship opportunity leading to internships and career starts as well as the chance to see a product in development at the cutting edge
  • the product teams would gain the insight of a key young demographic
  • students can learn a product, promote it, engage the audience and match the passersby with the correct product lead more effectively than the aforementioned vacuous blond
  • female students taking part in this initiative will accurately represent the face of women in technology and business, while being made aware of the lingering chauvinism first-hand
  • the program could be worth college credits as part of a semester co-op agreement or similar
  • assuming local colleges would be engaged for major conferences, the students could also be an on-the-ground logistic team, helping to collect floor materials ahead of time and providing insight into the location

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