CES, the world’s largest tech show, opened today in Las Vegas yesterday. But even before its first day had drawn to a close, the event’s organizers were under fire for a total absence of women from its highest-level speeches.
Among the show’s many trade highlights include a raft of home and IoT devices and the cutting edge of AI, machine learning and self-driving cars – all of which will take a center stage in 2018’s technology headlines. This is the 51st edition of CES, which will be attended by almost 200,000 people and thousands of startups and other tech companies. It has become an industry benchmark, and a vital measuring stick for the year ahead.
However the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) that produces and owns CES has drawn criticism for a lack of female speakers. It is the second year in a row that no women have been present at its biggest events – a fact that rings loud for an industry plagued by sexism in its recent history.
The CTA responded by stating that women are present at CES’ smaller events, adding that it would “redouble our efforts to expand women’s voices throughout the conference and as featured speakers.” It also complained that there is a “limited pool when it comes to women in these positions.”
That has done little to quiet a flurry of sexism claims that are backed up a growing clamor to expose gender-based discrimination in tech workplaces. The #MeToo Twitter campaign has unrooted hundreds of instances of abusive behavior at startups, while multinationals including Tesla and Uber have been the subjects of media exposés into their “bro culture”.
“It’s great that we have a lot of women in executive roles, but the opportunities to are still too few and far between, and it’s a symptom of broader societal discrimination,” wrote Mashable’s Monica Chin of the show.
CES’ extensive lineup is a vital peek into the products and innovations grabbing global attention. But its downfall is as old as tech itself – and will continue to be a major story in 2018 and beyond.