IBM’s #HackAHairDryer Campaign Condescends to Women

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Earlier this month IBM announced #HackAHairDryer, a campaign designed to end the gender gap in tech by, you know, relating to the ladies on their level. The ladies did not take it well:

Personally, my issue with #HackAHairDryer isn’t that it focuses on a traditionally feminine beauty tool. There’s absolutely room for fashion and beauty in science; recent advancements in wearable tech aimed at young women demonstrate particularly well that the “pinkifying” of STEM fields can be an excellent way of getting some young people (and not just girls) interested in subjects they might have otherwise perceived as inaccessible.

But it’s transparently condescending to tell women that hairdryers are “what matters in science” — and out-of-touch to imply that only women use them. Judging from IBM’s tweet, #HackaHairdryer also seems to be aimed specifically at women with established careers in tech, not people who are looking for an accessible gateway to engineering. As many engineers have used the hashtag to point out, it’s a tad insulting to suggest that women who are already designing satellites and building robots would be sufficiently challenged by hacking a hairdryer.

Women who are already working in tech could probably benefit from an IBM campaign designed to address harassment in the workplace, the gender wage gap, and prevailing biases against women in STEM. What they don’t need is for patronizing, lip service-y hashtags like #HackAHairDryer to excuse IBM from creating actual solutions to those systemic problems.

Thankfully, IBM is listening to its critics:

(via Gizmodo)

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