Silicon Valley is hiring models to go to Christmas parties and socialise with tech workers


jasper hamill

Silicon Valley is hiring models to go to Christmas parties and socialise with tech workers
Silicon Valley has found itself at the centre of yet another sexism row (Credit: Getty)

This year saw an endless stream of grim sexual harassment scandals rock Hollywood and the political establishment.

But some Silicon Valley firms don’t appear to have learned from the hashtags, revelations and witchhunts of 2017.

Most of the engineers who work in the Valley’s tech industry are men, which often means that parties can end being a little too blokey.

Which is why big companies often pay beautiful women to mingle at events.

Now Bloomberg has claimed there is record-breaking demand for modelling agencies’ services – a revelation that has sparked a firestorm of criticism from feminists and a flurry of virtue signalling from their allies.

Cindy Gallop, a world famous advertising guru and passionate gender equality campaigner, tweeted: ‘At a time when we’re trying to end sexual harassment and lack of gender-equality, this ISN’T HELPING, Silicon Valley.’

Big companies including ‘one of the largest search engines in the world’ pay between $50 and $200 (£37 and £149) to hire ‘ambience and atmosphere models’.

One modelling agency said it frequently turned down pervy requests for models to wear short skirts, cleavage-baring dresses and even pink latex body suits.

Sometimes, women are told to pretend to be genuine guests and refuse to hand out their contact details.

Another of the agencies Bloomberg spoke to is called Cre8, which discussed how it sent 25 attractive men and women and to hang out a party held by a gaming firm that was ‘pretty much all men’.

The firm’s president, Farnaz Kermaani, personally checks out companies before agreeing to send her models along.

She said: ‘If somebody is creepy toward me, and I’m the owner of the company, I can guarantee they’ll be creepy to the models. Silicon Valley doesn’t have the best reputation.’

In the year when #metoo lit up the internet and a tsunami of allegations washed Harvey Weinstein out of Hollywood, the exposure of tech firms’ love of models provoked a predictable outpouring of anger.

If Scorsese in his prime made a Silicon Valley movie, we'd be at the point where the fun stops, the soundtrack changes and everything starts to fall apart for the protagonist.

— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) December 8, 2017

On Twitter, the science writer Erin Baba sarcastically wrote: ‘Nah, Silicon Valley isn’t sexist. They don’t have a women problem at all. Nope. They’re great. They treat women super equally.’

Tech entrepreneur Azeem Azhar advised the world to ‘set creepy level to high’ whilst Amie Stepanovich, US policy manager at the digital right firm Access Now, said the revelations were ‘ so, so, so, so gross’.

Will Oremus, senior technology writer at Slate, added: ‘Any company doing this should be maximally shamed.’

More: World

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