Dmexco 2016: Fighting adland's feminist cause
From gender-specified areas, to half-dressed women walking the floors, if this female reporter has taken one thing away from Dmexco 2016, it's that the gender debate in adland is far from "fucking over".
Each year the conference draws in tens of thousands of ad-techers, agencies, media owners and the most senior advertising figures from across Europe - and increasingly the rest of the world, with IAB US sponsoring this year's event - acting as an ideal place to do business, network and showcase new tech.
It has undoubtedly become the place to be for anyone working in digital; and yet the divide between men and women - or men and 'girls', as the dedicated 'Girls' Lounge' would have it - is impossible to ignore.
Men doing business
The conference halls, where the divide was most visibly apparent, were painfully busy at the best of times, but at least there was somewhere for me and my fellow Dmexco girls to go and get our hair and make-up done.
'Confidence is beautiful', 'be authentic' and 'energize self, soul and sisterhood', the stand said at the entrance to the boudoir-inspired lounge - complete with chandelier, pink sweets and in-house photographer.
And not forgetting the most inspirational phrase of all: 'Modern feMENism includes men' - like feminism hasn't always been about gender equality.
Girls being girls
Meanwhile, outside in the bright artificial light of the Koelnmesse, women were being used as objects to try and sell business (or at least give somebody a bag with a free pen in it).
Crowdfox likes its men fully-dressed / ResponseConcepts likes its women in lycra and heels
The ResponseConcepts business team (source: Facebook)
Sexism in the media industry has been a hot topic of debate for a long while - ignited most recently by Saatchi's Kevin Roberts who resigned from his post following some unwise comments around gender diversity.
But if one of the most influential conferences in the world is perpetuating gender stereotypes and segregating and under-representing women in advertising and tech, how is our industry meant to overcome the sexism it claims it so desperately wants to eradicate?
Most of the women I spoke to at Dmexco and after the conference were reluctant to comment on-the-record, however, three senior women spoke to us anonymously.
"What decade are we in that someone signed off using women in hot pants to market their ad tech business? There's no place for it in any industry, let alone one that sees itself as diverse and forward thinking. It's uncomfortably embarrassing, and ensures that I will not be doing business with that company."
Another said: "I can get behind the sentiment of the "Girls' Lounge" - female collaboration, support and empowerment, providing access to female role models - but I am a woman in business, wanting to do business with other men and women.
"Calling it the "Girls' Lounge" instantly infantilises it, and makes it sounds frivolous. Isn't creating an environment exclusively for women reinforcing the gender segregation that we need to overcome? And what's with the pinkwash?"
The third said: "Our industry knows that it has a gender problem and is finally beginning to talk about it with the seriousness it deserves, but I think we're a long way off from solving it.
"A good place to start would be by treating women like women - who can do business just as well as their male colleagues - and not like 'girls'."
Probably a good idea to drop the hot pants and Lycra too.
This article was amended on 20 September. The original incorrectly stated that the ladies in green lyrca were working for Adyen. They were actually employed by ResponseConcepts at the stand next door.