Two weekends ago I staffed a consumer trade show for the first time, one of the early steps in my project to improve our presence at future trade shows. It was a weekend full of hands-on experience and many opportunities to learn. It was a lot of work, but equally fun.
Aquatics is a male-dominated industry, and simply by chance we ended having an all female show staff. Two ladies from sales joined me for the weekend, due to their territories being somewhat close to the show’s location.
Oh. My. Word. We received more attention from the other exhibitors for being a bunch of pretty ladies. (It wasn’t as creepy as it sounds, fortunately.) Yes, a few people were of the leering-type, but for the most part the guys were just grateful to see some women in the hobby. They were happy to know we were interested in the same things they were so passionate about.
After the show each day, and sometimes during, there were many opportunities to socialize with the other exhibitors and experts, and I now know what it feels like to be a 9 or a 10. Now in everyday life I’m not ugly, but nobody would ever mistake me for a model. However, at the show I had the chance to feel like I was one for the first time in my life. People wanted to buy me drinks and were happy just to have me in their presence. They were paying a lot of attention to me and interested when I was around.
Being treated that way was fun, and made me feel good about myself, but it was honestly not as fulfilling as it would seem. I, along with my two co-workers, wanted to be respected for working hard and making a conscious effort to know as much as we can about our products and industry. That being said, I am always glad to receive a free drink, but I’m not going to work any less hard just because I’m a woman.