Business

Wednesday 22 March 2017

IBM sparks anger with its #HackAHairDryer campaign aimed at women

Rhiannon Williams

IBM's New York offices
IBM's New York offices

IBM's campaign to #HackAHairDryer to encourage more women into science and engineering roles has been branded patronising and trivialising.

IBM has been criticised over a campaign encouraging women to hack a hairdryer, with Twitter users claiming it is patronising and demeaning.

Ironically, the #HackAHairDryer campaign has been designed to encourage more women to apply for jobs within science and engineering, sectors where less than 3 in 10 positions are held by women.

A video for the campaign, which also features the slogans "Girls don't like science?", Women can’t code? Only men wear lab coats?" as part of its bid to raise awareness.

However well-meaning #HackAHairDryer is, it's been roundly attacked on Twitter where users complained the company could have chosen any other electrical device, rather than a beauty product. IBM has been contacted for comment.

In the US, women hold around 26pc of jobs in the tech industry according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Google has admitted it still has "a long way to go" in terms of diversity hiring, with women making up only 30pc of its overall workforce, a figure roughly echoed by Facebook's 31pc and Apple's also 31pc.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of Lastminute.com, has spoken out about the ''unconscious bias'' against women in the technology sector, saying she originally thought the internet would level the playing field.

She described the growth of the internet as the ''industrial revolution of our time'' and said that unless women were at the forefront of it, the UK would go backwards.

''All that's happened is that one bunch of very rich white men have transferred their money to another bunch of very rich white men and, worse than that, they are in a very small concentrated area of the world, in Silicon Valley,'' Baroness Lane-Fox, a cross-bench peer, said.

''I still find that really baffling. The absence of women from the teams that are making the internet, the product designers, the coders, the engineers, the absence of women in the venture capital community."

Telegraph.co.uk

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