CES’ sexism problem is about more than booth babes and pink robots
By Karissa Bell 2018-01-13 03:11:48 UTC
CES is a place of extremes. Every year, technology companies, large and small, save no expense in finding bizarre ways to present their gadgets (often relatively banal): massive tunnels made of huge OLED screens appliances with wizards built-in, and weird concept cars unlikely to do it well beyond the Las Vegas Convention Center floor.
But, look behind the exaggerated displays of “innovation”, and there is an unsettling truth that should not surprise anyone in the industry: the CES still feeds the sexist narratives that many have worked for change during the last year.
Disturbing beauty products (a “smart mirror” may sound cool, but it also amplifies the anxieties that many women already have), cleaning and support robots, and VR porn expos, CES is filled with all sorts of subtle and not so subtle sexism.
To be clear, the annual show has long been criticized for sexist overtones. Since the 1960s male-dominated high-tech firms have been hiring women to work as “booth babes”. (Fun fact: they were called “CES guides” at the time.) Today, babes are a bit less important than in years past, but practice, as evidenced by the photo at the top of this post, is far from dead.