Doh! Computing giant IBM unintentionally incurred the wrath of tech and science professionals on Twitter with its #HackAHairDryer campaign, which challenged women to take a regular everyday hairdryer and create something new out of it.
"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," an IBM spokesperson told The Telegraph. IBTimes UK called up several Europe, UK and US-based members of the IBM media team and was unable to speak to anyone as their phones and mobile phones all went straight to voicemail.
The campaign was part of the IBM Innovation 26 x 26 initiative, which aims to inspire more women to switch careers and join the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry. IBM says that less than three in 10 science and engineering jobs go to women and their video emphasises that innovation can come from anywhere and shouldn't be affected by gender or race.
The campaign carried the tagline, "#HackAHairDryer — Reengineering what matters in science", and despite its lofty aspirations, it has earned the ire of many women and men on Twitter who deem IBM's efforts to be both sexist and condescending.
Many users expressed disappointment that IBM chose the hairdryer, as apart from appealing to gender expectations, there's not really that much you can do with this relatively simple electrical device, which has a design that hasn't changed much since it was invented in 1920, other than to have improved heating elements.