Making noise works

// 19 June 2008

It’s National Electronics Week! You know you’re excited. How could you not be? According to this press release, it’s ‘the UK’s premier electronics industry exhibition’:

National Electronics Week (NEW) was conceived to provide an event that showcases every aspect of today’s electronics market including the latest innovations in electronic design, silicon, hardware systems, software design, components, test tools, assembly equipment, production systems, contract manufacturing services and distribution.

How pleased am I then that XJTAG is sponsoring the event for three years. That was rhetorical, hence the lack of question mark. I’m not pleased. I’m amazed. Simon Payne, CEO of XJTAG explains why his company decided to get involved:

XJTAG decided to support the National Electronics Week as the organisers are committed to creating a dynamic event with an international dimension. Here, at last, is an opportunity for the leading UK-based companies and universities to highlight their world-class innovative talents in research and development at a UK event

And how has Simon Payne decided to show this ‘support’ for ‘world-class innovative talents in research and development’? By providing ‘XJTAG girls’ to greet delegates as they enter the venue.

Here it is from the press release, which I received an excerpt of by email yesterday:

We urge everyone to come along to the event, celebrate our world class capabilities and put the UK electronics industry back on the map,” added Simon Payne. “The event is far more than a showcase of products and services, it is a major networking opportunity, a place to interact face-to-face and cross-fertilise with peers in the industry.”

The XJTAG girls – follow the link below to download a high resolution image – will be welcoming visitors to this inaugural event. The XJTAG team will be on stand C61.

How can you not laugh? On the one hand, the event is about ‘world class capabilities’, putting the ‘UK electronics industry back on the map’, ‘major networking’, and interacting with ‘peers in the industry’. On the other, it’s a show room where the already low numbers of women likely to come by (because the numbers of women in science, technology and engineering are low and lowering) will be made to feel even more out of place and unwelcome as they are greeted by models that mock their involvement in science by their outfits, postures, use of hard hats (a reliable source tells me that there’s not much need for them in the field of electronics), and their very name – ‘girls’. I mean, seriously?

Here’s the link to the image, but it no longer works! Fortunately, we have a screen shot, below, clearly showing that it was once available on XJTAG’s website. You can also see more shots on Simon Payne’s own profile here.

From the same press release:

Photo caption: XJTAG’s international models Gemma Massey and Laurena Lacey will be welcoming visitors to National Electronics Week at Earls Court (17-19 June).

Where did the pictures go? Some active women got it taken down! By the time I received the email, they were already gone and the news going ’round is that the female event organizer, the CEO, the company office and the contact listed on the press release were all targeted about them. Go team!

Thanks to Jan for the head’s up.

Comments From You

Jess // Posted 19 June 2008 at 2:17 pm

Excellent that they got taken down so quickly!!

Sarah // Posted 19 June 2008 at 2:39 pm

I’m glad to see that was pointed out so quickly – and good for XJTAG for recognising their mistake and taking it down.

But, seriously, how can they ever have thought that was appropriate in the first place? Presumably this idea was proposed, discussed etc at length, various people were consulted, someone had to approve it at a senior level, and no one ever thought to say – wtf? this is not ok.

Apart from the stupidity of the whole thing, it’s obviously problematic because of the demeaning and inappropriately sexualised imagery of the women (sorry, ‘girls’) and also because it completely excludes women as interested customers. Now, that’s not because women can’t be attracted to women, many are and I am actually one of them. And likewise some men aren’t attracted to women. But there is a cultural significance to women being used like this in advertising and as ‘decoration’ at events, and that’s to mark it as something aimed at men – to me it is like plastering big signs everwhere proclaiming ‘Not For Women’, Yorkie-wrapper style.

chem_fem // Posted 19 June 2008 at 2:50 pm

Awesome! Love to see people making a difference about this!

On an alternative note what do you think to the advert in this link:

Is this what you get if your science field has much more women present? As a silly advert I thought it was hilarious as the concept is way over the top. Not sure what to think as a feminist.

Audrey // Posted 19 June 2008 at 2:53 pm

Yes, making noise does work, as discovered yesterday in Parliament on MP’s recognition of the need to re-categorise lap dancing clubs, citing stakeholders and pressure groups (that’ll be us then). Oh yes.

Mary Tracy9 // Posted 19 June 2008 at 4:45 pm

How kind of them to provide a link to “download a higher resolution image”. They might as well have added “already hard thinking about it? Here, go wank! And think about us while you do it”.

HelenonFire // Posted 20 June 2008 at 9:29 am

LOL to what MaryTracy said! I don’t really have much more to add than GO TEAM! =)

Anne Onne // Posted 20 June 2008 at 12:12 pm

Something to cheer us up!

It still surprises me

I agree with Sarah. This isn’t about whether women are attracted to women (some are, some aren’t, same as men), because society clearly aims images of sexually objectified women at men, reinforcing the underlying bias against women being taken seriously or feeling comfortable in an area. To me, it seems like an underhand reminder of what a ‘woman’s place’ is, to have scantily clad models at an event like this, underlining that women are objects for delectation, not seriousl representatives equal to their male colleagues. At any rate, it would certainly detract from what one hopes would be a more serious and focused atmosphere, since T & A aren’t really related to electronics.

Those who pretend that it’s not disrespectful to the women attending to have half-naked women there to please the men should think about what it would be like if it was reversed.

If you had oiled-up ‘XJTAG boys’ wearing the same kind of outfits for the enjoyment of women and gay men, heterosexual men would complain about how they felt alienated and uncomfortable.

Of course, a reminder that there is nothing wrong with women wearing whatever the hell they want, and that I don’t blame the models. It’s about how in this situation, women are being used as objects for sexual gratification, at an event that is not supposed to be about sex, at the same time alienating women who attend.

Sarah // Posted 20 June 2008 at 3:03 pm

On the subject of making noise, anyone want to join me in complaining to the BBC about their coverage of this story about two boys who sexually assaulted and murdered a woman :

There’s the usual passive construction about how the night ‘ended in murder’ as though it was a natural event that ‘just happened’, but I was particularly upset by the bit that seemed to blame the woman for her own death: “Known to be fond of a drink, on that Friday night she took it too far, and it cost her her life.” – which might be appropriate, though insensitive, if she’d died from alcohol poisoning or something, but not when she was deliberately, brutally murdered! That’s hardly a direct consequence of drinking.

Seriously, I expect this crap from the Daily Mail. Not the BBC.

Carla Brown // Posted 6 October 2008 at 12:04 am

I have worked for XJTAG as one of the ‘girls’ on a number of occassions and if it’s any consolation it didn’t seem to do their image much good. I received so many comments from people saying that it undermined the professionalism of the company – why would they need to splash their logo across breasts if their service and products spoke for themselves?

Tina // Posted 28 January 2009 at 6:19 pm

I recently visited electronica in Munich and there were 6 girls similarly clad, so I think the statement from Sarah

“I’m glad to see that was pointed out so quickly – and good for XJTAG for recognising their mistake and taking it down.”

I don’t really believe is true, they continue to market in the same way and have not realised their mistake in anyway.

I’ll be attending Southern Manufacturing next month, XJTAG will exhibit there, so I’ll see if any lesson has been learnt?

zohra moosa // Posted 30 January 2009 at 9:47 am

Hi Tina

It’d be great if you could report back after you attend. I’m sure it’ll take a lot more than some letters just the one time to shift XJTAG’s ways permanently, so we’ll just have to keep up the pressure I think.

Tina // Posted 14 February 2009 at 5:20 pm

Exactly the same as before, no lesson learnt.

I guess we’ll see more of the same at National Electronics Week again this year and the next with their three year deal.

What a great way to promote women getting into engineering!

Jim Bojanski // Posted 17 June 2009 at 4:53 pm

I am afraid making noise doesn’t work.

The XJTAG girls are being paraded around the NEW show @ Earls Court as if nothing had happened

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