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

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Tennessee State Representative tweets support for Bundy Militia

As you are probably aware, a group of armed ranchers has taken over a federal building in Oregon, as part of a “protest” of federal government land use and ownership policies.  The protest, of course, isn’t a protest, it’s an act of violence.  As such, the action has been condemned by even the most conservative of Presidential candidates like Ted Cruz.

However, not ever lawmaker has voiced their objections, and some have even tweeted their support.  Enter Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R):

That tweet from Representative Holt was deleted, but as you can see, some grabbed a screenshot of it.  After the tweet was deleted, Representative Holt added:

When asked for comment, Holt did say,”I do lend my moral support to the Bundy militia, or whatever they call themselves.”

So, to summarize:

  • A sworn government officer tweeted their support for an armed insurrection so extreme that even some of the most extreme Republicans running for President have disavowed it.
  • He deleted the tweet in which is expressed his support, then tweeted comments alluding to his support, then got into a flame war with others who attacked him for it.  If you’re going to do all of those things, why delete the tweets in the first place?

Tweets and Consequences

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Texas Representative’s old online comments revealed: Marital rape isn’t real, marijuana is great

Texas State Representative Jonathan Stickland bills himself as a “Christian Conservative Liberty Loving Republican” in his Twitter biography.  If that’s the case, he’s really got some explaining to do.

Representative Stickland has a primary opponent, Pastor Scott Fisher.  Pastor Fisher recently revealed old online comments which Stickland had made, including:

  • “Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!”
  • In regards to a drug test he had to take for work: “They are stupid for doing this to me. I am the residential manager. Lead company in sales every month and now we will see how they respond…I smoke weed MAYBE 2-3 times a year?”  According to Stickland, the drug test was coming days after he had a “few glorious rips from a blunt.”
  • Commented on how he bought a “detox drink” and was trying to hide it from his wife
  • Commented that he was looking for a “smoke buddy” and gave his Email address for anyone interested.

Now, there are some important caveats here.  Some of these comments are very old – from 2008 – so they were made 7-8 years ago.  Even older are the comments where Stickland is looking for a “smoke buddy” – that’s from 2001, when Stickland was 17.

In comments to the Texas Observer, Stickland made the following statement:

I do not feel that way today. I can only repent and ask for forgiveness from the people it offended and hurt. Rape is serious and should never be joked about the way that I did regardless of my age.

The same article’s headline, I think, is perfect: “Johnathan Stickland’s Pot Antics are Comical.  His Views on Rape are Terrifying.”  I agree completely.  Perhaps he has grown and come to realize the error of his ways…but these comments will, unquestionably, need to be explained.

What this does show, however, is how online comments made – even years and years ago – can come back to haunt you.  This goes to show the importance of digital education, regardless of how old someone is.

Carly Fiorina sets new low for pandering: Roots against her alma mater in Rose Bowl

Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is a Stanford graduate.  As such, yesterday should have been a big day for her, since the Stanford Cardinals were playing the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl, one of College football’s biggest games.

However, given the upcoming Iowa Caucuses, Mrs. Fiorina switched loyalties:

The internet, of course, wasn’t having it:

This is a fail on so many levels.  First, as the responses showed, it’s just so blatant: The pandering is so, so clear.  Second, it is incredibly insulting.  Does Mrs. Fiorina – or her campaign – truly think that Iowa voters are so stupid that they can be manipulated into voting for someone, not based on their policy positions or experience, but because of their loyalty to a football team?  Third, it was so unforced.  It’s not as if the average Iowa voter was sitting down, thinking, “Gee, when is Mrs. Fiorina going to weigh in on who is going to win the Rose Bowl?  I simply must know her position before I cast my vote!”

Incidentally, Stanford obliterated Iowa, winning 45-16.  This, of course, spawned a new hashtag on Twitter: #CarlyCurse, in which fans blamed Iowa’s loss on Mrs. Fiorina.

Tweets and Consequences

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Minneapolis councilwoman releases names & contact information of constituents who disagreed

Elected officials are frequently contacted by constituents who agree or disagree with them on issues.  This is totally normal, expected and healthy.  Frankly, I wish I was contacted more by constituents, even those who disagree, because at least that would mean that people were paying attention!

Anyway, when a constituent contacts an elected official, it is totally reasonable to expect a response from that official, with the elected in question explaining their position.  What should never be expected, of course, is that the elected official releases the private correspondence from a constituent – along with that constituents name and contact information.

Yet, in Minneapolis, that is exactly what happened.

Council member Alondra Cano appeared at a Black Lives Matter rally last week.  Stephen Dent, a previous supporter of Councilwoman Cano, wrote to the Councilwoman to complain, saying that she was unfit to serve office because of her attendance at the rally.  Cano then tweeted out the letter that Dent wrote, along with his name and contact information.  The councilwoman did the same to others – here’s an example:

Dent, understandably, was less than pleased, as are others.  For her part, Councilwoman Cano has not responded to inquiries from the media about the issue.


It is important to note that what Councilwoman Cano did is not illegal.  State open records laws do not prohibit the releasing of personal information or constituent correspondence.  That being said, this is insane.  Unquestionably, some of the Emails that the Councilwoman chose to publicize is disgusting and a poor example of how to influence an elected official.  That being said, like it or not, people have a right to (within broad limits) say whatever they want to an elected official.  It is inappropriate for an elected official to release contact information of people who contact them. This can easily be interpreted as an attempt to intimate and silence constituents who disagree, even if that wasn’t the intent.


Tweets and Consequences

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Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin, takes to Facebook to call President Obama a Muslim

Welcome back from Christmas break, everyone!  Here’s how we’ll be starting the social media day.

Bruce Hagen is the Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin (population about 27,000).  Hagen, in response to a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama, wrote the following on Facebook:

“Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!”

Ahh, so we’re going with the “Obama is a Muslim” meme again, I see.  That’s lovely.

Needless to say, the city’s residents and other elected officials were not amused.  Five City Councilors called for Mayor Hagen to resign in the wake of his remarks, with Councilors calling the remarks “inappropriate.”  Mayor Hagen, for his part, refuses to resign, saying: “Am I gonna resign? Absolutely not. If the people of this community feel otherwise, they will vote me out of office.”

The standard response of Hagen’s remarks, from defenders, is probably something along the lines of “Free speech!”  They are right, of course – to a point.  The Mayor is, unquestionably, entitled to say whatever he wants (within certain broad limits) without fear of government repercussions.  But here’s the thing: Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of your speech, and elected officials are, as I’ve said a thousand times, held to a higher standard for the content of their remarks.  Indeed, this was best elucidated by City Councilor Graham Garfield, who said, “”Sure he’s entitled to free speech.  But elected officials are held accountable for stupid things they do and say.”

Tweets and Consequences

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