IBM’s promotional campaign to attract more women to science and technology by encouraging them to "hack a hair dryer" got some serious blowback on the internet.
The company on Monday pulled the plug on its #HackAHairDryer initiative after a multitude of women complained that it fed off sexist stereotypes. They said they’d rather be working on more important things like building robots.
IBM introduced the campaign a couple of months ago, saying: "Girls don’t like science? Women can’t code? Only men wear lab coats? It’s hair-raising misperceptions like these that keep bright minds out of research labs, scrum teams and engineering tracks — leaving untold innovations on the shelf. It’s time to blast away the barriers that women confront on a daily basis."
The company sent out a tweet on Friday calling all #womenintech to "join the #HackAHairDryer experiment to reengineer what matters in #science."
The tweet was roundly ridiculed by women on social media. The company deleted it, and also took down the campaign page and assorted videos of hair dryer innovations.
"The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers," IBM said in a statement Monday. "It missed the mark for some and we apologize. It is being discontinued."
What matters to women in tech, it seems, is not hair dryers.