Maybe the number of female speakers is no reasonable criterion for a tech conference. But here's what happened recently at CES in Las Vegas.
The Voice of the Valley
Every Tuesday, Handelsblatt technology reporter Britta Weddeling writes about the trends and oddities of Silicon Valley from a German perspective.
Be provocative in San Francisco – and you risk social condemnation. Even if people are of a certain opinion they would never speak it out loud. Everybody is so politically correct, gender conscious and home before 9pm. There are days I want my money back.
But how strange was going to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the biggest conferences in the tech industry. Vegas, baby, that’s a world of easy money and gambling addicts, of permanent entertainment, where the waitresses’ age indicates the quality of the hotel.
I remembered that when I was five, I asked my father why there were all the half-naked women in the carmakers ads. “It’s because men think they will also get the blonde lady if they buy the car”, he answered. I thought that was a pretty good deal.
Some people also seem to believe that. At CES, half-naked women were all over the place: next to autonomous cars or virtual reality headsets, robots or smartwatches. Interestingly enough some of these companies sell thousands of devices a month – how do they manage to ship all the women?
What I want to say is this: Maybe political correctness will drive us crazy. And maybe it is hilarious to think the number of female speakers is the most important thing about a tech conference. But we definitely need more women on stage than – for example – next to it.
Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.
Britta Weddeling is a technology journalist with Handelsblatt, Germany's #1 business daily, based in San Francisco. She is author of a weekly English tech column called "Valley Voice" and contributes every week to a podcast at a major German radio station (Deutschlandradio,"Was mit Medien").
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