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CES' Choice of Speaker Disappoints Women in Tech

Large crowd applauds, but some wanted a woman in the industry
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2020 6:50 PM CST

(Newser) – The nation's largest consumer electronics show hosted Ivanka Trump as a keynote speaker — a choice that drew scorn from many women in technology. Ivanka Trump spoke for nearly 40 minutes onstage Tuesday with Gary Shapiro, president of CES organizer Consumer Technology Association. She highlighted the work the administration has done with tech companies to retrain their workers for new skills. There was no mention of the pushback about her appearance at the show, the AP reports. The hall was full, and she was met with applause. The annual CES tech gathering in Las Vegas has long taken criticism over diversity issues. In recent years, CES organizers have invited more women to speak and sought to curb some of the show's more sexist aspects, such as scantily clad "booth babes" hired to draw attention of the mostly male attendees.

But for critics and activists who have pushed for broader recognition of the less-heralded women who found startups and take on difficult technical challenges, the inclusion of President Trump's daughter, who is also a White House adviser, sent the wrong message. "Ivanka is not a woman in tech," tweeted Brianna Wu, a video game developer who is running for Congress as a Democrat. "It's a lazy attempt to emulate diversity." Opponents tweeted the hashtag #BoycottCES. Shapiro said, "We’ve had politicians speak before, cabinet secretaries and others who've come in." Rachel Sklar, a tech commentator and founder of a professional network for women, was disappointed. "The whole category of women being overlooked are still being overlooked," she said. "Ivanka Trump disrupted the conversation about women in tech," read Engadget's headline, "while saying nothing about them."

(Read more Consumer Electronics Show stories.)

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