IBM’s way of getting women involved in STEM HackAHairDryer

Someone at IBM has a whole lot of egg on their face.

This one is a bit older, but here goes: The technology giant came up with a great (sarcasm) campaign to get more women involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Have them hack a hair dryer!  After all, nothing works better at getting women involved in a male dominating field than by appealing to them via stereotypical female product, right?

The campaign encouraged women to hack a hair dryer in order to “blow away the misconception, dissolve the stigma, blast through the bias, and bring innovation culture into balance.”

Users on Twitter – particularly women already involved in the STEM field – did not take kindly to the marketing effort:

I think this analysis from Fortune nailed it:

…“feminizing” science and technology in order to attract female talent propagates the myth that math, science, and technology are somehow inherently “un-feminine,” directly conflicting with the good intentions of these initiatives.

To their credit, IBM ended the campaign, admitting it’s failure.  In an Emailed statement, IBM said:

“The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers. It missed the mark for some and we apologize. It is being discontinued.”

The company also sent out this tweet:

IBM tried to blow apart stereotypes in science.  Unfortunately, they did so in a manner which merely reinforced the same stereotypes they were trying to break.  Someone should have caught this.  However, credit to IBM for recognizing their failure, acknowledging it and apologizing for it.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

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