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article imageWorld's largest tech show has learned a lesson on gender equity

By Karen Graham     Jan 5, 2019 in Technology
Las Vegas - CES, the huge annual consumer-electronics show in Las Vegas, caught major flak from activists in late 2017 when it unveiled an all-male lineup of keynote speakers for the second year in a row.
According to the Associated Press, CES 2017 did add two female "keynote speakers." but its reputation as the “boys’ club” remained intact. Adding insult to injury, last year, one of the unsanctioned events tied to CES was a nightclub that featured female “robot strippers.”
This year, four of the nine "keynote speakers" are women. This is a significant change for the world's largest tech show and one that has been welcomed, particularly by Gender Avenger, an activist group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, that raised a ruckus last year.
The group went so far as to send a letter to CES organizers, writing they had given the show a “Gold Stamp of Approval” for a roster of keynote and “featured” speakers that it says is 45 percent women - 60 percent of them women of color.
"GenderAvenger counts women's voices because we believe more women on stage means more women being acknowledged for the power of their perspectives and experiences which translates into greater respect. And along with respect comes the prospect of diminished abuse. We are pleased that CES has taken the first step towards improving the environment for women in the public arena, and in society more generally. This isn't the end; this is the beginning."
Looking at the bigger picture, technology conferences still remain disproportionately male, just like the tech industry. However, times are changing as more and more women and activist groups take up the banner of women's equity in the business world.
CES 2019, opens on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, Keynoters this year include IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Lisa Su, CEO of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices; and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Actually, the entire "featured speakers list" is currently half female.
“There is no question we keep trying to do better,” said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES.
“Diversity is about having people who see things differently — frankly, disagree with you and tell you that you are stupid,” said Tania Yuki, CEO of social media analytics company Shareablee and an attendee of CES for the past several years, according to West Hawaii Today. The big question, she says, is whether CES has really listened to its critics.
More about Gender equity, CES 2019, boys club mentality, keynote speakers, GenderAvenger
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