While the 1970s slogan "The Future is Female" has made a resurgence in the last couple of years, the message apparently has not reached CES organizers.
CES, the tech conference that opens the year with a look into the future, found itself mired in a problem that plagues the auto industry: a noticeable lack of female voices among lead speakers.
After women in virtually every industry, including automotive, stepped forward to publicly discuss harassment and discrimination in the workplace in 2017, an all-male keynote speaker lineup for one of the most-attended events of the year seemed tone-deaf to some attendees.
The Consumer Technology Association, the trade association that hosts the conference, has since added a keynote panel and other discussion events that include women, but some say the initial oversight is a symptom of a greater lack of diversity in leadership that could affect the development of new technologies.
On Nov. 9, the association announced the latest addition to the 2018 conference's keynote lineup, a panel about TV featuring Hulu CEO Randy Freer and Turner CEO John Martin. The executives were joining Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, association President Gary Shapiro, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett, Huawei CEO Richard Yu and Lyft President John Zimmer.
The homogeneous lineup sparked pushback from CES attendees, with Twitter announcing its own event within the conference — titled #HereWeAre — featuring only female keynote speakers.
"We will continue to push for women on the CES keynote stage where they belong," Leslie Berland, Twitter's chief marketing officer, wrote in a December tweet. "In the meantime, we've got a stage of our own."