Sometimes geek communities wish to promote a cause or product to women. This guide suggests how to do this in an inclusive, appealing way. Note that while this guide suggests more pragmatic reasons for inclusive marketing, this doesn't imply that there aren't also moral and social justice reasons for it.


  • Simply picture a woman when producing your materials. A competent, geeky woman. When reading or viewing your materials or speaking to your representatives, is she able to picture herself as part of your core market?
  • Invite individual women explicitly, e.g. ask individual women to submit a paper for a conference
  • If you are using models or images of people include women models/silhouettes/drawings etc.
  • If you are using spokespeople, some of them should be women.
  • If there are women associated with your cause or event, ask some of them to lead or help with promotion.
  • If you are promoting a community or an event, have clear diversity statements, and stick to them, together with clear policy about what happens in the event of discrimination or harassment.
  • When selling/giving clothing, provide clothing options shaped to be comfortable for women.


Avoid these:

  • Assuming that if a single marketing campaign did not produce a measureable increase in the number of women, then it was pointless and back to the old ways. Many geekdoms are low in women. You're part of changing that, but one campaign won't do it. Brand recognition is built up over time, and a woman who is not in the market for your product now may remember you at a later date.
  • Assuming that everyone who enters their gender as male online identifies as a man. Some women find online advertisements aimed at women tiresome or offensive and avoid this by entering demographic information that is likely to get them better advertisement. In venues where gender settings are visible to other users, appearing as male may help women avoid certain kinds of harassment.
  • General segmentation into "people" and "women", for example, people who like a wide variety of colours and fun functioning quality products and can listen to and evaluate nuanced arguments versus women, who will buy/believe anything that's pink.
  • Tokenism: your campaign or promotion should avoid having many many images or voices of men, and only one or two women
  • Sexist advertising:
    • Constantly portraying your core market/constituency/users as men.
    • Using sexual or aggressive imagery to appeal to men and health, caring or beauty imagery to appeal to women: we do see each other's campaigns.
    • Referring to the partner(s) of your core market as if they must be women, and especially as if they must be a nag, bore or mother figure.
    • Treating women as if they only get involved in things or buy things because of other people, ie, treating them as a carer for their family.
    • Only having images of extremely conventionally attractive women, especially if this is not true of men or their images which you use.
      • Having your extremely conventionally attractive women product models only using exaggeratedly sexualized or "cheesecake" stylized poses when demonstrating the product, rather than more natural poses.
      • Having your extremely conventionally attractive women product models all wearing clothing that would be impractical for the job they are ostensibly performing. For example, a network engineer wrangling cables might be more likely to wear sturdy shoes or boots than stiletto heels.
    • So simple, your mother could do it: segmenting into "cluey women" and "women who have had children". Most women have children at some point, and if they don't they usually have women friends who do. Likewise, don't segment into "cluey women" and "women over the age of [60/50/40/sometimes even 30]". Most influential women (like influential men) are older.
    • Assuming that being sexually interested in men is gay. It's not: it's a gay or bi/pansexual trait in men, or a straight or bi/pansexual trait in women! (Some non-gay-specific campaigns really do include attractive men and then use language that suggests that they've done this entirely because they realise some of their target market are gay men.)

See also

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