IBM’s #HackAHairDryer campaign aimed at ‘reengineering misperceptions about women in tech’ has massively backfired, causing the firm to pull the campaign and apologise.
#HackAHairDryer launched in October with the plan of getting women in to tech. While remaining under the radar for the past two months, the well intentioned campaign by IBM came under fire over the weekend of Friday 4th December – after the firm re-advertised it on Twitter.
The video posted on IBM’s YouTube account (which as now been removed) featured a voiceover declaring: “You, a windblaster and an idea, repurposed for a larger purpose, to support those who believe that it’s not what covers your cranium that counts, but what’s in it. So hack heat, re-route airflow, reinvent sound, and imagine a future where the most brilliant minds are solving the world’s biggest problems regardless of your gender.”
Despite plans to inspire women, a number of female STEM professionals took to Twitter to show their disapproval over why IBM thought it could combat gender stereotypes by implying that women will only be interested in science if it involves modifying a female beauty product.
Here are some of the most popular tweets on the matter:
How to get more women in STEM? Fire the bosses who think #HackAHairDryer is a good idea, replace them with women.
— Stephanie Leary (@sleary) December 7, 2015
— @iPeggy 🐾 (@iPeggy) December 7, 2015
But it's to mess around with salamander DNA sequences, not hair dryers.
— Cathy Newman ⚜ (@cenewman0) December 7, 2015
— J. Rosenbaum (@minxdragon) December 7, 2015
It's clear there are great intentions in the #HackAHairDryer campaign… but I have serious qualms about both the message and the project.
— AnnMarie Thomas (@amptMN) December 6, 2015
IBM has axed the campaign and apologised, with an official spokesperson saying: “The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers. It missed the mark for some and we apologise. It is being discontinued.”
What do think about #HackAHairDryer? Was it a bad move by IBM or just an overreaction by a handful of influential tweeters? Tell us in the comments section below.