Surprised MS apologises for Meter Maids’ bikinis


Microsoft has apologised to any attendees at its Tech.Ed conference on the Gold Coast who were scandalised by its use of Meter Maid girls as promotional assistants, explaining that it didn’t know the girls would turn up wearing bikinis.

“The Australian Tech.Ed team would like to sincerely apologise for any offense caused by the promotional staff who were manning the remote controlled car exhibit at the Tech.Ed welcome reception,” the software giant said in a statement this afternoon.

“We were unaware of their exact costuming until the day of the event, at which time it was too late to be addressed.”

The Meter Maids attended the Tech.Ed launch last night and were initially welcomed by the predominantly male audience — 2,700 members of the Microsoft eco-system in Australia. They dressed in their traditional gold bikinis that have been seen on the Gold Coast for decades.

However some in the community questioned whether their presence did more to hinder the cause of attracting women to work in the IT industry than helping it.

“It does make me ask: Hello Microsoft — I still don’t understand how this fits with your session encouraging women in IT tomorrow? WTF?” asked Kate Carruthers, a senior social business consultant at Headshift Australia and well-known members of the Twitterati.

“Microsoft is committed to diversity in the workplace and in the IT industry at large,” the software giant said this afternoon.

“We believe that diversity enriches our performance, our products and the communities where we live and work. As the IT industry evolves to reflect the growing diversity of the global marketplace, our efforts to understand, value, and incorporate differences become increasingly important.”

So-called “booth babes” — scantily dressed promotional assistants — are a staple of technology sector conferences, especially larger trade fairs such as CeBIT. However, their presence has generated debate in the industry over the past few years, with some feeling that the trend objectifies women — and others feeling that it’s all a fuss over just a bit of fun.

Image credits: @themolk

Delimiter’s Jenna Pitcher is attending Tech.Ed this week as a guest of Microsoft, with flights, accommodation and meals paid for.


  1. Another co-incidence… the IPv6 range allocated to attendees at TechEd is 2001:dfb:0:b00b:…

    Hope they are back next year!

  2. So bikini-clad Meter Maids were “manning” the booths, and MS regrets the issue could not be “addressed”? Interesting choices of words there.

    • Nah, I’ve been to a lot of conventions and seen a lot of booth babes in my time (not complaining!).

      Admittedly, these girls were wearing less than I’ve ever seen a booth babe wear. The whole thing was just bad timing – the next day they were focusing on women in IT.

  3. Looks to me like all of these Guys are pretty happy, I’ve seen bikinis that were way worse just on the lake or at water parks.

  4. So, how would you guys feel if the Chippendales had unexpectedly turned up at a work-based event, and you were stuck in a nealrly all-female crowd leering and cheering at them?

  5. Indifferent and tolerant. I’d not look but thats a CHOICE i’d make.. its not like the attendee’s are all 13 yr juvenile people… most are highly functional intelligent males who know how to separate business culture from sex.

    If anything i think whats happening is the argument is that the mere males are so dumb that they would then associated half naked women as a typical persona in the workforce today? That’s a very naive assumption imho.

    Treating attendee’s like they are 13yr olds is actually worse then parading half naked adults :) don’t insult the collective intelligence.

  6. Scott, you may not be the kind of guy to treat women badly, but I can assure you from personal experience, that there are enough of them around to make life very difficult, especially in a male-dominated work field.

    In the situation described in the article, as a woman in that crowd, you’d find at least some of the guys starting to look at you as a piece of meat, not a human being. You’d have to fend off _more_ sleazy approaches and groping.

    I’m ashamed that some women now behave this way towards men. Gaining more choices shouldn’t mean we start making the ones that denigrate and harm others.

  7. Clytie.

    I’m not specifically saying the above was a brilliant idea there should of been both male/female if you’re going to ply the sex sells approach. I do however ponder as to how much something like this gets over amplified. Using your logic, one could argue that if a husband beats a wife therefore all husbands are suspect of being wife beaters until proven innocent.

    If grown men and women can’t see a billboard, model etc half naked and not connect the dots between social workplace etiquette and their personal beliefs then in reality where does that line get drawn? at what point does equality tip in the balance of inequality?

    Had the above had both male and female “Meter maids” than I wonder if that would of had the same venom attached? Microsoft needs to hold itself to a higher standard simply because its a large target and those rules apply – but company aside and being a former Microsoft employee and Product Manager if the target audience is 2/3 men in the audience then to be fair its just Marketing Reality. Its no different to seeing really the Redbull team hand out drinks at conferences (Notice majority of the time they are female) the difference here is the clothing – which really spills over to dress code / ethics not so much degradation of women in IT.

    As for you being ashamed of women, the same principles apply – the problem overall is there is no collective consensus amongst both genders on what’s allowed vs disallowed and while some would say “Omg, wtf those skanks need to cover up” on the other side of that coin some could argue “the fact they get the liberty to dress this way is a choice most women around the world do not have”.

    Overall though this is one of those situations where in PR terms its the “How do you feel about abortion” question in reality – either answer your going to offend so the smart money is not invite the question or albeit don’t invite the meter maid.

  8. Scott, sorry if I didn’t get my point across. When I said “I’m ashamed that some women now behave this way towards men.”, I meant I feel ashamed when women leer and jeer at men they consider “beefcake”. This is a disrespectful and bullying behaviour some women have adopted. I don’t consider it progress. :(

    I didn’t say that all men behave in this way. Unfortunately, enough of them do to make it very uncomfortable for any woman in a crowd full of men. I don’t know if you’ve been groped or sleazily propositioned in a crowd or at a work event. Try to find a woman who hasn’t.

    There’s no “venom” attached to my comments. I’m sharing my experience and my opinion.

  9. Clytie,

    Why on earth would you be ashamed of that? its human nature to look at the variety of people in front of you and act on them – some just at times disconnect the filter between the brain of course :) and time/place. I don’t think its so much a one policy fits all i just simply think that we as an adults need to take ownership of our own personal choices and stop trying to bend the world around us to our own beliefs… if history has shown anything that really doesn’t end well for the dictator in question.

    I’ve seen both sides of the gender isle degrade one another there’s no exclusivity on that, just its more amplified and louder when it comes to guys but to be fair, its not exclusive.

    I didn’t mean your comment re: venom i meant the whole situation has a degree of venom in it.. Its kind of like “quick naked girl, throw the brand under a bus and pin as much of your political views on this before it decays” bandwagon.

    Women in IT had nothing to do with this situation it was obviously a malfunction in wardrobe quality assurance and as a result it ends with a “Gotcha” and link bait for this site. Its really a non event and turning it into a Microsoft hates women approach as has Kate could be argued as leading the readers down the path of is kind of lame.

    Especially when Tracey Fellows – head of Microsoft Australia – is obviously a power broker and glass ceiling breaker her self and typically is the first to knock this kind of thing on its head well before it starts…

    Linkbait is what i’d probably class this post.

  10. I dunno, Scott: you’ll probably find this is more of an issue for women in IT than it is for you. Ask around.

    (I thought I made it clear that I was objecting to anyone degrading another person, not saying it was exclusively a male behaviour. That’s where the “I’m ashamed of women when they behave like that” part came in. :) )

  11. Clytie,

    I think i’ll just agree to disagree on this one ;) i’m not female so i don’t have first hand exposure to the proposed issues women face. I will say in this case its just over-inflated and its more of a pin the political agenda to the donkey game than actual Microsoft giving women in IT the proverbial “Up yours”.. especially knowing that internally we used to just drill that you even contemplate heading down that route you’ll get a swift kick in the ass no matter what level of authority you have.

    this is just one of those “oh yeah, who’s the one dumbass in the room who just didn’t think” vs Brand hates women.

    • It took every Microsoft staff I know by suprise. Until I read about it in the press I didnt actually give it any thought other than how odd.

      Besides it was bloomin cold on the Gold Coast.

      Given the few women at TechEd is seems a bit thoughtless. Its probably fair to say most blokes didnt pay much attention which poses the question why put on a stunt at all.

  12. The girls in the gold bikinis were just doing their job and they did not look skanky. Many corporations use bikini models to attract people.

    • Hey Pete, not sure if you were at TechEd … but when I stumbled into them I did think it was pretty skanky.

      If it was at a beach party or cosplayers at something like comicon then they may have fit with the general scene.

      But these girls and their outfits quite obviously had no connection to the Halo game(?) that they were playing … it was just wrong.

  13. It bothers me that Microsoft is that PC. C’mon people … stop being prudes. The girls are lovely and if that offends some women, then they need to lighten up. The girls are a major part of the tourist industry and loved by many of the people who choose to visit the Gold Coast. Please stop arguing that we ought to turn back the clock and live in the nineteenth century again. Believe me, it wasn’t that good.

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