IBM discontinued its #HackAHairDryer campaign, intended to help "blast through the bias" against women in science and engineering jobs, after a torrent of social media users accused the initiative of furthering stereotypes.
IBM launched the campaign in early October with a video that begins by stating that fewer than three in 10 science and engineering jobs are held by women. It encouraged women to hack a hair dryer to "blow away the misperception, dissolve the stigma, blast through the bias, and bring innovation culture into balance."
A storm erupted on Twitter in response to the campaign, accusing IBM of sexism and criticizing the company’s social media team.
Going to tell my daughters to learn to #HackAHairDryer so they can enter STEM careers without sexism!!! ??— Anna Sleighgo-Ridin (@annaspargoryan) December 7, 2015
I bet there's a social media expert at IBM going "Hey this #HackAHairDryer thing is going great, lots of tweets!"— David Olsen (@DDsD) December 7, 2015
Based on the negative feedback, IBM discontinued the campaign.
"The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers," IBM said in an emailed statement. "It missed the mark for some and we apologize. It is being discontinued."
On Monday, IBM tweeted an apology and promised to "do better" in the future.
Thanks for the feedback on our campaign. We heard you and we apologize for missing the mark. We promise to do better in the future.— IBM (@IBM) December 7, 2015
IBM appears to have deleted all content, tweets, and videos associated with the campaign, but some users captured the content beforehand.
Never tweet. pic.twitter.com/97gT89tJmo— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) December 7, 2015