IBM's 'hack a hairdryer' campaign gets burned

It was meant to show that innovation is independent of gender, but IBM's women in tech campaign seriously backfired.

by Rebecca Smith
A still from the IBM video
A still from the IBM video

Everyone loves an uplifting campaign. When done well, it can spark worthwhile discussion, not just a good batch of press coverage. Sport England's success with This Girl Can showed just that. Of course when it goes wrong, the results can be disastrous.

So spare a thought for tech firm IBM, which has suffered the 'hairdryer treatment' from all sides after an ill-advised campaign, #HackAHairdryer, picked up traction for all the wrong reasons. The video, which has since been pulled, shows women reverse engineering a hairdryer. The idea was – apparently – to try and encourage women to get into technology, but quickly drew widespread criticism from women who actually work in tech for being patronising.

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