The tech sphere has long been an area fraught with discrimination and double standards for women. This year's debacle at the Consumer Electronics Show involving female-led sex tech company Lora DiCarlo is perhaps the perfect illustration of this problem.
CES made headlines for all the wrong reasons by awarding and then promptly revoking, before ultimately reinstating, the award to a sex tech product designed by women, for women.
The reasons given by the tech organization for its flip-flopping were unconvincing, and CES' announcement today about new rules aimed at increasing diversity and representation at the annual conference are a response to the backlash they received earlier this year.
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New rules and consequences
CES published a press release today outlining the steps it is taking to make the 2020 event a less biased and more diverse space for attendees. “CTA is committed to evolving and continuing to create an experience at CES that is inclusive and welcoming for everyone,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES. “We worked with a number of external advisors and partners to update and improve our existing CES policies.”
Another effort for inclusion is a new curated “Innovation for All” programming track that is likely aimed at the heavy criticism the organization received after not scheduling a single female keynote speaker for the previous two years.
Location, location, location
The trade show's controversial "booth babes" have been banned with the introduction of a dress code that states "sexually-revealing" clothing is not allowed for any staff, regardless of gender. CES has also made a committment to actually enforce its exsiting ban on pornography in 2020.
Failure to comply will result in penalties to those companies that don't abide by the guidelines. Violators of the new codes of conduct will be sanctioned by being barred from prime floorspace for exhibitors at the industry's biggest event and moved to less desirable locations.
Sex and tech for all
After the controversy surrounding Lora DiCarlo's innovative Osé Robotic Massager, CES has made an explicit update to its sex tech policy. The new rules state, "CES 2020 will include tech-based sexual products on a one-year trial basis as part of the Health & Wellness product category or in the Health & Wellness startup area of Eureka Park.
Products must be innovative and include new or emerging tech to qualify." And in a promising sign of progress, Lora DiCarlo's website now has this message posted online: "We advised the CTA on how to make their policies more inclusive for female-focused sex tech products.
CTA recently announced updated policies, which we are proud to have had a hand in creating. We'll see you at CES 2020!"