Technology, Innovation, Impact. Humor on the side.
When the tech world decided to expand growth by targeting products to the “untapped” female demographic, the results have been (and will continue to be) abysmal. If companies really wish to pull ahead and bring in more female customers, they should really think-twice on their marketing schemes and make sure they aren’t essentially calling the demographic out for being too dumb for their “regular” products.
Exhibit A: The “First Tablet For Women”
Ever since the iPad first came out, there have been viral videos galore (ex: this one) showcasing how the iPad is so intuitive that even a baby can handle it. If a baby can work an iPad, why would EUROSTAR go through the trouble of creating a tablet exclusively to ease life for the modern woman (link: ePad Femme Tablet)? The fact that it comes pre-loaded with applications for fitness, cooking, yoga, etc. and the marketing message behind these inclusions seems more like a major case of stereotyping and anti-feminism sentiment than reason to jump and purchase the device.
The message: Oh no ladies, you probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to download your own apps to another tablet – so we’ll go ahead and take care of what women need in a tablet for you…
Exhibit B: Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch Event
Ready. Set. Disaster…
Just watching the video coverage of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch should be enough to make any woman cringe. The blatant sexism and dramatics is so over the top, I actually cannot fathom how the company could have even thought this would resonate well or found women who would want to be the face of such shenanigans. I get that the company was trying to insert humor into their product launch, but seriously – at the expense of making an entire gender look idiotic and like bobble-heads?
The message: Oh ladies, Samsung is so considerate and thinking of your needs with the S4. Why did we create Air Gesture functionality? Oh because, your nails may be wet, or you may have sticky fingers, or you may just need that hand to continue holding a drink…(note: these are actual reasons given at the launch).
Exhibit C: Goldie Blox – aka the “First Engineering Toys For Girls”
I understand first-hand that America is in the midst of an education crisis, especially when it comes to STEM fields (and in particular the shortage of women in STEM). But the argument that more girls would grow up wanting to be engineers by playing with gender-targeted engineering toys like Goldie Blox sounds crazy. I grew up playing with Barbies and not legos, and I still wound up getting an engineering degree. And, while there are countless stories of girls recalling how playing with legos sparked their passion to become an engineer, I have difficulties believing that gender-targeted toys are really the answer. I say give the child whatever they are inclined to – whether its is a girl who wants a building set or legos, or a boy who desires his own cooking kit or barbie.
To truly push girls to engineering, toys are barely the answer. Little girls need encouragement in the maths and sciences and computer sciences when they are going through school. They need to feel like STEM careers are not cast-off as “nerdy” and only something math geniuses can do. And, a much greater problem (and perhaps something easier tackled) is the *retention* of women seeking college degrees in engineering. There are too many women that go to college thinking they will major in engineering, only to drop out a year or two later. Investigating that, and retaining those women who are interested in such careers should be a bigger question.
The message: Oh girls, leave your Barbies and your brother’s legos. We have a totally new toy for you! We’re going to turn you into an engineering inventor by playing these. Instead of teaching you to break gender barriers and allowing you to play with whatever you want, we’re going to just give you gender-targeted toys! Who needs to show and teach you about actual female role-models when you can just have a fictitious one!