The Engineers of Tomorrow Are Men, The Women Remain Props No More

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 24, 2016

For years, IFSEC used women as props to reward male engineerings. After our 2015 criticism, they changed.

Original 2015 post

Celebrated annually at IFSEC, it is called 'Engineers of Tomorrow' a competition for troubleshooting alarm systems.

Young guys win each year and get to pose with the 'CSLDualCom ladies'.

Here are the pictures. First from the official website for the 2014 event:

And here is a tweet from this year's 2015 version:

And here is a tweet / picture from the 2014 version:

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And here is a tweet / picture from the 2013 version:

2016 Update - Reformed

The 2016 version has changed.

The winners no longer pose with models:

Even more reformed, they are now actually promoting women in security:

Good job IFSEC and CSL.

Comments (53)

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What's there to defend? They're not choosing men over better-qualified women. These women are happily collecting a paycheck for nothing more than having a picture taken of them with some random guys. But no, men should be ashamed of enjoying the company of attractive women, right? Just as attractive women should be shamed from using that trait to earn a living.

I subscribe to IPVM for scholarly and scientific articles, not for this gender politics nonsense.

"But no, men should be ashamed of enjoying the company of attractive women, right?"

Security companies should be ashamed of using attractive women as props and rewards for men who win prizes.

In your zealous attempts at being offended wherever possible, you've done the exact thing that I assume you're against: stripping women of agency.

These women were not "used", they were hired. They chose to be there. They chose to participate. And "props"? Really? Apparently you can't appreciate attractive people, or enjoy being around them, without everyone forgetting that they are, in fact, still humans.

"They were hired. They chose to be there. They chose to participate."

Under your logic, then strippers in booths are no problem.

Just because someone is willing to do something, does not mean it is the right or acceptable thing to do.

In other technology segments, this is already out. For example, the RSA security show has banned this.

Wow. In one short comment, John has:

  1. Ignored the majority of my comment, again, and instead focused on the one detail he's able to nit pick.
  2. Equated fully-clothed models with strippers.
  3. Stated the obvious as though it supports his argument.
  4. Linked to an article that applauds policing what women can and can't wear.

Have some recommended reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_theory

Women don't need your saving.

"Linked to an article that applauds policing what women can and can't wear."

That's a bizarelly clever way to re-frame banning of booth babes.

Feedback from security industry women on these practices:

#1: "It's not just on the show floor where this is going on, it's at many of the vendor parties. Parties that women like myself have to attend because we are often working at them as part of our day jobs, in professional corporate functions. If we complain that we are uncomfortable with women swinging on poles (and yes, I've seen this) or women dancing in lingerie as part of the "entertainment", we are told our opinions don't count, because we are not the target demographic."

#2: "If you are on a booth like that, your (dominantly male) colleagues are continuously commenting the booth babes tits and asses, and no sensible word is still coming out of their mouth. In the mean time I forgive them, since they can't help it, everyone has his or her limitations, my colleagues brains can't handle a broad spectrum of information, they tend to focus best on only one thing. So be it. And on normal day to day work, they are great colleagues to work with and I really can count on them.

What is a more indirect result of this innocent way of marketing, is that if you as a female colleague are at a booth, being it as visitor, either as a professional member of the technical staff, you either have to prove every minute again that you are not a booth babe, either they expect you to be one.

I once had the suggestions by one of our sales to wear high heels and short skirt, together with my marketing colleague. Have any of you guys already been to an exhibition wearing high heels ? It is really worth the try, it will give you a complete new experience in 7 ways to torture your feet in 1 day.

On the other hand, when I walk as a visitor together with my colleague, and I start asking questions on a product that interests me, the (usually male exhibitor) either ignores me, or answers my question to my colleague, avoiding eye-contact. Untill after half an hour, finally the idea rises that I might be the decision maker."

"According to a statement released to TechTarget, people will be unable to display "excessive cleavage," and won't be able to wear tank tops, tube tops, miniskirts or minidresses. RSA go on to say that any scantily dressed people found on the show floor would be asked to put on a sweater or leave."

They didn't ban booth babes, as you claim. They banned some of their more typical attire. I don't know at what point a skirt or a dress becomes "mini", but assuming those worn by the women pictured in the article qualify, it's not particularly difficult to get outfits with a few more inches of length. You'd still be complaining about it either way, and now women are more restricted in what they can wear.

Regarding the comments, once again fully-clothed models are being equated with strippers. Models on the show floor and dancers at private events are two separate topics of discussion, as evidenced by the fact that those shows where "booth babes" are outright banned still have private parties with strippers/dancers. Forcing people to work those parties if they aren't comfortable? That's not okay, regardless of the person's gender. But what would you do about the parties in general, ban them? Police what they can do at those private parties? How about instead of complaining with the goal of restricting what other people can do, you work to create more opportunities for those you feel aren't getting them? Add, don't subtract. I'm sure the non-trivial percentage of gay men in the industry would appreciate some male dancers as much as the straight women would. As it stands, manufacturers are catering to their overwhelmingly male customers. The demographic feeds the entertainment. If by next year women were 50% of the security industry, manufacturers would adapt. Your opinions seem to stem from an idea that you can't be attracted to someone without automatically treating that person (and indeed, their entire gender) as lesser for it. Do you think that any men who visit strip clubs or "breastaurants" are sexist?

"As it stands, manufacturers are catering to their overwhelmingly male customers. The demographic feeds the entertainment."

Yes, and the entertainment is young women, I am glad we both understand it. That does not mean it is right or fair.

"You can't be attracted to someone without automatically treating that person (and indeed, their entire gender) as lesser for it."

Unfortunately, the reality is that many men think lesser of women because women are regularly used as pretty props, so it reinforces that men are there to do business and women are there for entertainment.

Two paragraphs, and you reply to two sentences? Should I just assume that you agree with me on everything you aren't contesting?

Does your issue with this extend to all strip clubs, "breastaurants", etc.? What isn't "right" or "fair" about attractive women making a living with the attributes they were lucky enough to be born with? About people entering into a mutually-beneficial service agreement? You seem to have a serious chip on your shoulder about the fact that humans enjoy looking at attractive members of their preferred gender, or in many cases just attractive people in general.

You're putting a lot of thoughts into other people's heads here, and conveniently ignoring reality as it is for your idea of reality as it should be. If you're looking for a knowledgable manufacturer's rep in an industry where 90% of those reps are men, it is not wrong to assume that the person you're looking for will be a man (and, indeed, it's illogical to assume anything but). That isn't because men think that those women who do happen to be reps are less capable, just that, in reality, they are a small minority. You're conflating acting based on prejudice with acting based on an asymmetrical reality, and they are two completely different things.

"Should I just assume that you agree with me on everything you aren't contesting?"

I've spent more than enough time responding to you and commenting on this. My points are detailed enough here and elsewhere on the matter.

Unwilling or unable to support your position in a current discussion, so you point to a dead one? Sorry, but is this website not, you know, your job? I'm just disappointed, really.

Surely, you must be disappointed then about where the world is going because you are rabidly defending a warped and dated worldview.

So, yes, I am not going to spend any more time on you. I am happy to answer questions or concerns from others. This is my last response to you.

Since when has acknowledging reality been either "warped" OR "dated"? If you want to stick your head into the sand and ignore facts that you don't like, I can only feel pity for you.

And here's a graduating class of nurses. This article is obviously trolling. I agree with Undisclosed A Integrator. This couldn't be more irrelevant to the industry.

How many women were in competition for this? What kind of program do they have to attract women into the security career fields? This would be more useful information.

It is difficult enough to find good women candidates who are interested in security without someone implying that the whole industry is sexist.

What in the world is this article?

Defend this article?

I cannot begin to imagine what your defense is to this article.

And, why don't you like Avigilon?

"And here's a graduating class of nurses."

And your counter proves my point. The graduating class or nurses does not have male models posing with them but in the security industry this is considered acceptable.

We've debated this at length before. Reference: Sexism and the ISC West Party Girls

"And here's a graduating class of nurses."

"And your counter proves my point. The graduating class or nurses does not have male models posing with them but in the security industry this is considered acceptable."

He's got you there

...check-mate ....goodnight one & all

Just keeps missing the point.

"It is difficult enough to find good women candidates who are interested in security without someone implying that the whole industry is sexist."

Lol at the suggestion that this article makes it harder to attract women.

It is exactly these types of public spectacles and male defense of them that does that damage.

"Lol at the suggestion that this article makes it harder to attract women."

Because who wouldn't want to work in an industry they have no knowledge of the culture of when all they hear is how horribly sexist it is towards their gender, right?

"It is exactly these types of public spectacles and male defense of them that does that damage."

Ah, the typical claim that defending your position somehow makes you even MORE in the wrong! No ungood singlethink allowed.

"No ungood singlethink allowed."

You're certainly allowed to comment, as you have done repeatedly here.

I am simply saying that your passionate defense of this practice will add to the concerns than women have.

So you not only presume to speak for women, but to make them out as so weak that they can't handle someone having a differing opinion? Yikes.

As one of the few contributing women to this blog, and maybe one of the few female members on IPVM, I am not offended. I agree with those that say it's a "job" they applied for and agreed to be paid for. Strippers make good money, I'm sure the Hooters girls, Tilted Kilts, and other "breastaurant" workers do pretty well too. I have to rely on my brain, no one is hiring me to be trade show eye candy. I know my place, and I'd have no problem taking a picture with the Chippendales (again). ;-)

What I do find offensive are the 'pay-to-play' and 'pay-to-promote' awards previously discussed in a previous article. I can create my own medallion, icon or lucite tombstone touting myself, but if I didn't earn it, who cares?

I like your post Lynn. I am wondering if you have ever been to the IFSEC show?

My first IFSEC was 2004. My jaw hit the floor when I walked in. After a few minutes I began to feel sad for the women and upset at how these companies basically prostitute woman in order to generate booth leads.

I have never been to an IFSEC show, but WAY back in the day I used to work in the banking and finance industry designing and installing trader workstations. Our annual trade show was called SIA ("Securities Industry Association") and took place in the ballroom of the NY Hilton. Trust me, times (and testosterone) have not changed. I'm not complaining, it was absolutely fun. I imagine IFSEC is the same but with different booth displays.

The elephant in the room here is your first words to the title of this spectacle.

"The Engineers of Tomorrow Are Men"

You all zeroed in on the photo of the models. Shameful. The issue is, the engineers of tomorrow are men!

Work constructively to attract a more diverse landscape to our industry and the thing you all seem to be so sensitive about will dry up.

Attack the person(s) and ban the practice(s) are the trademarks of shortsighted ideas with inadequate defense.

B, the choice of my title was to contrast those two elements - that the industry lacks diversity and reinforces that by using the outsiders as props.

You are not going to attract a more 'diverse landscape' by flanking men with paid models. That's a problem in and of itself.

Such displays signal to women to stay out - that they are respected in our industry based on their looks but not their talents.

Changes like these take place with gusto when the "offender" realizes a better way. "Banning" has such a negative connotation that it retards the process and even creates resistance, like it or not. You are not giving women any intellectual credit.

"You are not giving women any intellectual credit."

So you are defending women's intelligence by supporting booth babes and the 'right' to have male 'winners' take photos with female models? Ok....

OK. Evidently my messages are coming out the other end in another language. Nowhere in any message do I support what you claim. To the contrary, I have tried to advance a positive way to make substantive change.

Or, it could be that you have created some canned messages that drone the same things over and over again and you're really not even there.

Either way, I'll consider it a dead discussion with no progress noted.

The primary reason I am assuming that more women don't get into this field other than as sales and manufacturer's reps is the physical nature of some of the work. I am not an amazon (you can check my LinkedIn profile) but love the field work. I even recently received aerial operator training and certification (translation - I can run a bucket truck). I love solving a client's problem, and walking away a hero. I used to belong to a Speaker's Group, lecturing to high school women and minorities about careers in technology - their eyes would light up when they were presented with an alternative to just being a programmer. We are in a niche market that just needs, dare I say, a
"cheerleader" to promote what we do to a more diverse pool of resources.

Lynn,

Thank you! There is no denying the kind of behavior women have been subjected to in any profession dominated by men. They can be revolting, opportunistic jerks. Most who have worked alongside women know the real story. Change happens through a mutual exchange of ideas and respect. Yours is the kind of dialog that moves our industry forward.

I have been a long time champion of attracting more diversity to the security field. It has too long been dominated by males, but the way to improve is not to persecute a group of young men or the venue they attend. Thank you again for a positive message.

I would reveal who I am but I feel my man club and IPVM memberships are already in jeopardy:-)

"It has too long been dominated by males, but the way to improve is not to persecute a group of young men or the venue they attend."

B, good feedback.

If anyone is being 'persecuted' here, it certainly should not be the young men. Those guys are just caught in the mix.

The people deserving 'persecution' are people running and paying for this - the execs at IFSEC and the execs at CSL Dualcom, etc. They are not simply providing a venue, they are endorsing this practive.

While there are different ways to bring about change, one of the most effective is to argue against it directly, openly and publicly. Big companies will change if and when they see that their practices hurt their brand or business.

The subject is polarizing and emotionally loaded,with plenty of people sure they are on the side of "right."

I'd like to know one thing...What those girls have to say for themselves. Several of them are repeaters with at least one attending three times.

What do they think? What do they beleive they are getting from it?

This whole debate is incomplete without their input. Is it simply for a paycheck? Do they think they will get discovered? Are they related to the sponsors, or friends of theirs?

Why do they do it?

Why do they do it? Is it simply for a paycheck? Do they think they will get discovered? Are they related to the sponsors, or friends of theirs?

I would prefer to believe that these women are in some way attracted to highly skilled, tournament-level, troubleshooters. If you don't mind.

I'm surprised no one has asked what will they do if a woman wins...

CSL Lads?

Or will the problems that would create prevent one from ever winning to begin with?

First off, while I hope John's reasons for posting this article were noble in nature, I cannot help but think a man of his talent in this industry is also a master of trolling. Good job John, you got us active on the site (20+ posts) and created 2 Tweets designed to drive traffic to the site.

Secondly, if you really want to mak an impact on the real "the war on women" might I suggest you raise awareness on the abduction and sale of women and children by ISIS as detailed in articles such as this one. This seems to be a much more noble cause that deserves the time invested in it. I am sure the vast majority of these women who are used a sex slaves would look upon your article about women willingly being paid to have a photo taken absurd and distasteful when compared to their situation.

Until then, I will look for more informative articles on your site relative to the reason we all pay to be here and that is to get industry news and reviews that are current, informative and (hopefully) without jaded opinions.

This week, we had ~70,000 pages views, of which ~750 have come from this post. So not even a meaningful contributor to traffic. Also, the whole article is free, so no theoretical money to be made. Finally, since I have offended so many barbarians, we may lose money from cancelled subscriptions.

But that is fine. I am happy to stand up for what is obviously right.

This is a site about video surveillance. This is a video surveillance issue. We can have an impact on video surveillance issues. We cannot on ISIS.

So, net/net, you will see more articles like this, as we have done in the past, in the future.

Controversial issues will always result in someone being tweeked. Not sure this subject is all that controversial though. Few would argue that sex in marketing is generally a blight. It just doesn't rise to the level of a civil rights battle.

It's when the discourse is submerged into name calling that you start to wonder who is friend and who is foe.

"Security Nerds"? Probably. "Barbarians"? Hardly. You must have had some theatrical training.

This is a 'battle' because a few people have wanted to 'battle'.

Disagree. Fine. Don't care about this issue. Fine.

Making big showy defenses of this practice. Barbarian.

There's no need nor value to have female trophy presnters and it demeans the role of women in the trophy presentation industry :)

[IPVM Note: possibly NSFW / inappropriate - view image at your own discretion.]

There are some interesting perspectives in this article: http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/industry-favors-women-workplace

As a woman in the security industry, I think the industry needs to be careful about saying that "women aren't interested in this industry, and that's why there are no women here." Perhaps we should dive deeper and ask, if women really aren't interested in the industry, how come? And how can that be changed? Or perhaps the issue is that women are interested in the security industry, but they face obstacles to career growth that their male counterparts do not face. How can that be changed?

Anna, as a woman in the security industry, can you share any insights into the obstacles to career growth that women face that their male counterparts do not?

To Anna's, comment.

I hold the believe that anyone male of female can excel in the security business. It take a interest in the field, a passion to learn and a decision to become a true professional.

Once that decision is made, one should by the sheer nature of that decision, go all in and learn the trade. All people who are passionate about their chosen filed of endeavor, hold a trait where they are GOOD at what they do because it started with a solid interest in the field. Along with a focus to get REALLY good at their JOB.

I don't care who you are. If you like cool tech, a dynamic industry, the ability to create true value by becoming mutli-talented, then you can dominate in the security business. If you don't like any of that stuff...then it may not be the right fit. Has nothing to do with gender.

On the "field technician side" it may be that more men are interested in the field than women and that makes sense. Why would anyone choose to invest their life in a job that they they are not interested in?

[Nice thread, enjoyed the read]

On the "field technician side" it may be that more men are interested in the field than women and that makes sense. Why would anyone choose to invest their life in a job that they they are not interested in?

People should choose the careers that suit them, and no one should be made to feel uncomfortable for his or her choice.

That said, it's a folly to think that career choices will fall evenly amongst demographic lines. As a son of a woman, brother of women, husband of a woman, father of a woman, and occasional friend of women, it is clear to me that in aggregate, men and women are drawn to different industries.

People should choose the careers that suit them...

As a professional, I'd rather pose for a photo with the president of the association recognizing me for my work.

Second, I'm always skeptical of a trade booth with "babes", the product should be able to draw my attention. If you need to use sex to attract clients, I assume it's an inferior product and you're sales folk will probably say anything if they think it'll close the deal. If you want eye-candy, go "talk business" and a bar or peelers.

Third, a person should be awarded strictly on their ability regardless of (and not given special consideration because of) race, gender or sexual orientation. If I get beat by merit and that alone, that'll only push me towards professional improvement.

Finally, qualified technician are hard to find and harder to retain. Integrators need to do a better job recruiting, male and female alike, try hitting the college circuits and offer summer internships. Partner with local high schools to develop trade courses.

Third, a person should be awarded strictly on their ability regardless of (and not given special consideration because of) race, gender or sexual orientation. If I get beat by merit and that alone, that'll only push me towards professional improvement.

Does that apply to the booth babes themselves, too? I mean... maybe I wanna be a booth babe and get paid for my looks. Unfortunately I'd probably starve to death in that career...

...I wanna be a booth babe and get paid for my looks. Unfortunately I'd probably starve to death in that career...

People should choose the careers that suit them, and no one should be made to feel uncomfortable for his or her choice.

I don't think I saw this perspective in the thread (forgive me if I missed it):

If an award is for professional recognition, the atmosphere (including presenters) should be professional.

If an award is for, for example, best pick-up lines (which I would never win), then sure, bring on the "babes".

I agree with previous comments that the "booth babes" at events like ISC and ASIS are hired and paid for their services and do so voluntarily, but I'm embarrassed for the manufacturers and integrators who employ them for their booths.

I'm a male like any other and with all that implies, but I prefer my professional activities to occur in a professional environment.

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