Dec 7, 2015

    Women Scientists Are Mocking #HackAHairdryer To Shut Down Sexist Stereotypes

    "I don't own a hairdryer. I guess that's the end of my career in science."

    A new project started by IBM calling on female scientists to "hack a hairdryer" has been widely ridiculed and branded sexist by scientists who have taken to social media to call out the tech company.

    IBM

    IBM's project asked women to "give a hair dryer a fresh new use", take a video of the work, and share it on social media. The project was an attempt by the tech company to "dismantle the stigma in tech" and to be inclusive of women in the industry.

    The description of the project on the site reads: "Girls don't like science? Women can't code? Only men wear lab coats? It's hair-raising misperceptions like these that keep bright minds out of research labs, scrum teams and engineering tracks—leaving untold innovations on the shelf. It's time to blast away the barriers that women confront on a daily basis. Help us make a statement that it's not what people think of you that matters, it's how you think!"

    So when IBM tweeted the project over the weekend, scientists took to social media to let the company know what they thought of #HackAHairdryer.

    Calling all #womenintech! Join the #HackAHairDryer experiment to reengineer what matters in #science https://t.co/4Bc9CR1Tgv

    While a number of people were supportive of the project, the large majority of men and women in science began to respond to the tweet mocking it for being "accessible to women."

    Lady #science. Thanks for making it relevant and accessible to womenfolk like me, @IBM #HackAHairDryer #womenintech

    @IBM can't hack hairdryer right now, too busy hacking my vibrator.

    Hey @IBM why not #disrupt by just shaving your head? #hackahairdryer

    @IBM https://t.co/gLr3oQYdpZ #HackAHairDryer #womenintech #womeninSTEM

    Others came up with their own ingenious ideas about how to hack hairdryers.

    Here, @IBM. My lady brain came up with this for #HackAHairDryer. Kuhn would declare it paradigm shifting, surely.

    Some people sarcastically declared the end to their science career as they didn't own a hairdryer.

    @IBM shame I don't use a hairdryer. I guess that's the end of my career in STEM. Brb quitting my astrophysics PhD. #HackAHairDryer

    Despite the jokes, a number of scientists noted how they believe the project will do more harm than good for girls and women.

    @IBM #womeninSTEM You won't attract girls to STEM by pandering to them. Girls already like science. Problem is, science doesn't like girls.

    Even if we allow that @IBM is being ironic or playful, not sexist, with #HackaHairDryer, this still trivialises science. #womenintech

    Many described the campaign as going back in time for its treatment of women.

    Meanwhile at @IBM headquarters #HackAHairDryer

    Could someone let @IBM know it's not the 1950s any more? #hackahairdryer #womenintech https://t.co/KzhAHGd4Xy

    Not only did the replies to the tweet lead to hilarious and fire responses, but people soon took over the #HackAHairdryer hashtag.

    That's ok @IBM, I'd rather build satellites instead, but good luck with that whole #HackAHairDryer thing. https://t.co/n3vp0grbEP

    Sorry @IBM i’m too busy working on lipstick chemistry and writing down formulae with little hearts over the i s to #HackAHairDryer

    Once I used a hairdryer to heat up a freezing dorm room at a cosmology conference when the heater was down; does that count? #HackAHairDryer

    "Let's get more women into science by playing up tired gender stereotypes!" -someone at @IBM #HackAHairDryer

    Hey look u gais what I found in my hotel bathroom cabinet. Imma stop writing my manuscript & #HackAHairDryer

    Gonna hack myself a night where I don't cry myself to sleep after 2 bottles of rose #HackAHairDryer #womenintech

    BuzzFeed have contacted IBM for a comment.

    Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Rossalyn Warren at rossalyn.warren@buzzfeed.com.

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