Ivanka Trump's appearance at CES tech show draws criticism

Crowds enter the convention center on the first day of the CES tech show, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Crowds enter the convention center on the first day of the CES tech show, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LAS VEGAS, NV – The nation's largest consumer electronics show hosted Ivanka Trump as a keynote speaker — a choice that drew scorn from many women in technology.

Ivanka Trump spoke for nearly 40 minutes on stage Tuesday with Gary Shapiro, president of CES organizer Consumer Technology Association. She highlighted the work the administration has done with tech companies to retrain their workers for new skills.

There was no mention of the pushback about her appearance at the show. The hall was full, and she was met with applause. Organizers declined to say how many people were in the audience.

The annual CES tech gathering in Las Vegas has long taken criticism over diversity issues. In recent years, CES organizers have invited more women to speak and sought to curb some of the show's more sexist aspects, such as scantily clad “booth babes” hired to draw attention of the mostly male attendees.

But for critics and activists who have long pushed for broader recognition of the less-heralded women who found startups and take on difficult technical challenges, the inclusion of President Donald Trump's daughter, who is also a White House adviser, sent the wrong message.

“Ivanka is not a woman in tech,” tweeted Brianna Wu, a video game developer who is running for Congress in Massachusetts as a Democrat. “She’s not a CEO. She has no background. It’s a lazy attempt to emulate diversity, but like all emulation it’s not quite the real thing.”

Shapiro told The Associated Press, ahead of the talk, that Ivanka Trump is fighting for workers at a time when robots are filling warehouses and factories and self-driving vehicles are worrying truck drivers.

“We’ve had politicians speak before, cabinet secretaries and others who’ve come in," Shapiro said.