Computer Company Tells Women To #HackAHairdryer… But Sparks Scientist Backlash

Another day, another sexist social media campaign...

After garnering little to no attention for the past few months the #HackAHairdryer campaign from American computer company IBM has gone viral – for all the wrong reasons.

A video uploaded to YouTube in October, didn’t exactly set the world alight until this week when a number of scientists (male and female) took to Twitter to voice their opinions at the, frankly, quite seriously flawed campaign.
The video was (apparently) made to raise awareness and increase visibility of the roles available to women in STEM and technology, by showing them how to ‘hack’ (read: take apart) an everyday beauty tool.
In the video, IBM encouraged women to, ‘hack heat, re-route airflow, reinvent sound, and imagine a future where the most brilliant minds are solving the world’s biggest problems’ – one of which is rewiring an appliance for women’s hair, clearly.
Hundreds of Twitter users pointed out that a video directed at a potential lady scientist might fare better if it contained some actual useful science, or had some sort of social impact, and on Monday, general reactions ranged from outcry and anger to A LOT of sarcasm. 
Amidst the reactions (the hashtag was trending on Monday and was mentioned close to 5,000 times according the BBC) the company took to Twitter to apologise saying: ‘This was part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and maths). It missed the mark and we apologise. It is being discontinued.’ The video has since been deleted.
Whilst we’re all for big global companies promoting gender diversity in the workplace in industries where women are still woefully under-represented, we’d also like to recommend that if IBM really wants to promote gender diversity in tech, they need to rewire their entire social media campaign and have a little think about what really interests women science.
Hint: it’s probably the same stuff as men.
And in case you need your faith in science restored, we’ve listed the seven women in tech to watch in 2016 – you know, the ones who are busy solving the scientific mystery of the hairdryer as well as a few other bits and bobs…

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