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CES tech conference bans 'booth babes' following sexism row

Olivia Rudgard
A model performs at a display for Sony cameras after a Sony news conference at CES International in Las Vegas in 2018. - AP

The world's biggest technology conference is to ban "booth babes" following a row over sexism. 

The Consumer Electronics Show, which is held every January in Las Vegas, has updated its policies to stipulate that workers at company booths "may not wear clothing that is sexually revealing or that could be interpreted as undergarments". 

"Clothing that reveals an excess of bare skin, or body-conforming clothing that hugs genitalia must not be worn," the Consumer Technology Association, which organises the conference, said. 

So-called "booth babes", attractive women employed to draw attention to a company's stand, have long been a feature of the conference, but in recent years critics have argued that they alienate female attendees and exemplify the problems of the male-heavy technology industry. 

At this year's conference the organisers insisted "booth babes" had already been banned, but female models and dancers in revealing clothing were still in use at many stalls to promote products. 

The CTA also changing its rules to allow sexual technology products, which have previously been barred from the show. 

They will be exhibited as part of the health and wellness section of the show, on a one-year trial basis. 

Such products "must be innovative and include new or emerging tech to qualify", the CTA added. 

Last year an entrepreneur criticised the show after her robotic massager won an innovation award before having it rescinded. 

Lora Haddock, founder of Lora DiCarlo, said her award was taken from her by organisers who said sex toys were against the show's policy. 

In March it was reinstated by the CTA, which admitted it "did not handle this award properly" and said it would be examining its policies around sexual products. 

The CTA also announced a series of initiatives to promote women's tech at next year's conference, including sessions focused on promoting diversity and grants to help women and underrepresented groups exhibit.