A social media campaign from IBM intended to encourage more women to become in STEM fields is backfiring. Numerous websites, especially in the U.K., lit up Monday morning with criticisms charging sexism in a “patronizing” campaign.

“IBM’s #HackAHairDryer tweet fail completely misses the point,” writes Colm Gorey at Silicon Republic.

“The social media managers over at IBM have appeared to have wildly miscalculated the public’s reaction to its aim of increasing the number of women in tech by asking women to #HackAHairDryer,” Gorey writes.

Later Monday, IBM issued an apology in an email statement.

“The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers,” the company told Huffington Post. “It missed the mark for some and we apologize. It is being discontinued.”

The ad appears to have been well-intentioned and reflects a broader push by the company — one of only 22 on the S&P 500 led by a female CEO — to attract women.

“As part of the campaign, IBM asked women working in STEM backgrounds, or who want to work I STEM backgrounds, to ‘hack a hairdryer’ in order to ‘reengineer what matters in #science’.”

Adds the U.K. Independent:

“Computer giant IBM has faced criticism for a ‘patronising’ campaign designed to get more women into technology and science by encouraging them to “hack a .hairdryer.”

Here’s The Guardian’s summary:

  • IBM sparks anger with #HackAHairDryer campaign aimed at women

“IBM’s Hack a Hairdryer campaign has backfired and has been criticised by women in science and technology.

And The Telegraph joins in:

  • IBM sparks anger with its #HackAHairDryer campaign aimed at women

“IBM has been criticised over a campaign encouraging women to hack a hairdryer, with Twitter users claiming it is patronising and demeaning. Ironically, the #HackAHairDryer campaign has been designed to encourage more women to apply for jobs within [STEM] careers].”

Then there’s Sky News:

  • IBM ‘Hack A Hairdryer’ Idea Branded Sexist

“The company says sexist misperceptions keep “bright minds” out of research labs, but its campaign appears to have backfired.”

And The Hunnington Post U.K. reports:

  • IBM’s #HackAHairDryer Women In STEM Campaign Suffers Massive Backlash On Twitter

“IBM has just launched a new initiative to encourage more women to join the technology and science industry. It is called Hack-a-Hair Dryer. hack a hair dryer. Claiming to be ‘dismantling stigmas in tech’, the program challenges women …”

Yet not all media is critical. Notes Gizmodo:

  • Remember Massacred Women Engineers with a Hairdryer Hackathon

“On December 6th, 1989, Canadian women were targeted, shot, and killed for being engineering students. The Montreal Massacre is a national day of remembrance and action, which makes it the perfect time for IBM to push their pinkification of science …”

Make up your own mind. Check out the IBM initiative at:


Watch the video at: