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There won’t be any women in top keynote slots at CES, after all

There won’t be any women in top keynote slots at CES, after all
[Photo: The Climate Reality Project/Unsplash]

Following a flurry of criticism a month ago about the lack of female keynote speakers at the 2018 CES, the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the show, promised that people should “stay tuned” for “more big announcements.” A source told me that CTA was looking for female CEOs to add some diversity to the lineup, but today they confirmed that it didn’t find any takers for the show, which begins on January 9. So for the second year in a row, the very top slots—those addressing the entire conference—are all going to men, most of them white.

But the mega conference, with over 180,000 attendees expected next week, does hosts several sub-conferences around topics like entertainment, health, sports, and AI that will feature female speakers. A CES press release lists 28 women speakers along with 26 men. They include some company heads, such as Dr. Bettina Experton, founder and CEO of health data firm Humetrix; and Angela Ruggiero, CEO and cofounder of the Sports Innovation Lab. Most are below the CEO level, however, which disqualifies them for a top CES spot anyway. They include people like Anita Sengupta, SVP of systems engineering at Hyperloop, Bridget Karlin, chief technology officer of IBM’s Global Technology Services business; and Diana O’Brien, chief marketing officer for Deloitte.

Meanwhile, CTA has tweaked its web page on keynote speakers—the one which prompted the initial flurry—to make it look more diverse. The men dominating top spots, such as Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, are now mixed in with women at smaller events, like PepsiCo SVP Kristin Patrick.