OK CES, where are all the women?

9th January 2018
Alice Matthews


As the tech industry turns its attention once again to Las Vegas for the annual CES show, many have been disappointed by a lack of change. Gender inequality has occupied a significant amount of column inches in the US over the past six months, and this week’s Golden Globe Awards was no exception. It was therefore slightly surprising to see that all of the top six speakers at CES were male.

The world’s biggest technology show opened its supersize doors on 9th January. An organisation called Gender Avenger has spent several months attacking CES because it features 'six keynote slots, six men, five of them white'. This is happening for the second year running.

In response to these criticisms, the organisation behind CES – the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) - has attempted to highlight the number of female speakers at lower-level talks, while saying there is “a limited pool when it comes to women in these [high profile] positions.”

The CTA has added two female leaders to a panel discussion on the future of video: Nancy Dubuc, President of A+E Networks and Kristin Dolan, Chief Executive of 605. Nevertheless, the standalone presentations will all be given by men.  

Is this really good enough? More work needs to be done to elevate women into the keynote positions, specifically to the level of CEO or President. In a letter to Gina Glantz, the head of Gender Avenger, the CTA's Gary Shapiro recognised the issue, stating: “we will redouble our efforts to expand women's voices throughout the conference and as featured speakers.”

Shapiro continued: “A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that 'there remains a persistent lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the technology workforce'. We agree, especially for women in leadership roles.

“This is a global issue – not just within the technology sector – all industries and our society at large can and must do better.”

Only time will tell whether these words will translate to reality at next year’s CES.

‘When one female helps another, something unique happens’
One organisation who is trying to address the gender disparity in the tech industry is FLITE - Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere. The group aims to build a platform based on real life experiences to help raise the visibility of females in technology.

Founded in 2015, FLITE organise events and publish articles to both inspire the next generation of females into technology and support peers already in the industry.

FLITE regularly attend trade shows, and while they are not at this year’s CES you can find them at APEX, SMT Nuremberg, and electronica – to name but a few.

You can find out more about FLITE on their website and LinkedIn page.

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