Women at CES

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Women at CES - Gender Imbalance

The RSA conference was criticized for having only one female among its 22 keynote speakers in 2018 and has since increased the presence of female speakers at the event, with 21 of 43 keynote speakers in 2019 being female. The North American Bitcoin Conference was also criticized for a lack of female speakers in 2018. This conference appears to have made some small progress on including more female speakers, but still has a large discrepancy in the number of male vs. female speakers.

RSA Conference 2018

  • In March 2018, the RSA Conference (RSAC) scheduled for April of that year was criticized for having only one female among its 22 keynote speakers. The conference is focused on cybersecurity.
  • The single female keynote was Monica Lewinsky, who was to speak about cyberbullying.
  • RSA blamed a lack of women in tech fields for the lack of female keynote speakers.
  • The conference was called out by Gender Avenger for the lack of speakers. The activist group put pressure on RSA to include more women speakers in the conference.
  • An alternative conference, Our Security Advocates Conference (OURSA) was organized in protest of the lack of women speakers at RSAC and was held at the same time.
  • In 2019, RSA made more effort to include women in the conference, including female cybersecurity analyst Niloofar Razi Howe, who joined the RSA president for the opening keynote.
  • The 2019 RSAC keynote lineup included 21 women and 22 men. The 2019 conference also featured several all-women sessions.

North American Bitcoin Conference 2018

  • The 2018 North American Bitcoin Conference (TANBC) was criticized in 2018 for having just three females among its 88 scheduled speakers.
  • The conference initially received complaints because it only had one female speaker, so three women was actually an improvement over the initial program.
  • The event was also criticized for planning a networking event at a strip club, a move that was seen as likely to alienate the few women attendees.
  • TANBC founder Moe Levin did not apologize when confronted with criticism about the lack of female speakers and the planning of a networking event at a strip club. In fact, he defended the choice to hold the event at a strip club, stating it had "the ideal layout for networking" and that there was no nude dancing until after 11pm that evening.
  • The list of speakers announced ahead of the 2019 TANBC included four women out of 16. TANBC website currently features a list of 19 speakers scheduled for 2020, three of which are women. This would imply that the conference has increased the number of female speakers since the criticism they received about the 2018 conference, yet there is still a large discrepancy between the number of male and female speakers.
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Women at CES - Female-led Companies

5 examples of female-led companies, innovations, or speakers that will be featured at CES 2020 are Meg Whitman, Lora DiCarlo's Osé, Willow's Wearable Breast Pump, LA LUER, and IBM. Additional findings are included to list more female-led companies and address the context of the research.


  • Meg Whitman is announced to be one of the keynote speakers at CES 2020.
  • Meg Whitman is the CEO of Quibi, the mobile-centric, short-form streaming-video platform.
  • She also sits on the board of Dropbox.
  • Before Quibi, she served as CEO of Hewlett Packard, where she oversaw its split into HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
  • She is best known for her achievements at eBay Inc., where she led the company to grow from 30 employees and $4 million in annual revenue to over 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue.
  • She has also held executive-level positions at Procter and Gamble Company, Hasbro Inc., The Walt Disney Company, and Bain & Company.
  • She received an AB in Economics from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
  • No reports on Whitman’s difficulties to register for CES were found.


  • The Osé is a personal massager designed for women, marketed as a hands-free vibrator that will exhibit at CES 2020.
  • The device uses robotics technology to create combined clitoral and G-spot orgasms.
  • The device is developed by Lora DiCarlo, a company focused on integrating pleasure and tech to create products that people would use.
  • Lora DiCarlo is founded and led by CEO Lora Haddock, and claims to comprise “women, men, non-binary, gender non-conforming, straight, and LGBTQ+ folks”.
  • The company raised $2 million in its latest venture round in May.
  • There was huge controversy surrounding CES and Lora DiCarlo in 2019 when the organizers revoked the company’s exhibition at the show and revoked a technology award initially given, without valid justification.
  • Lora DiCarlo published an open letter as an objection, accusing CES of gender-bias.
  • The award was returned after four months of controversy with an issued apology from CES.
  • Lora DiCarlo is currently registered to exhibit at CES 2020.
  • Since the return of the award, no reports on the company’s difficulty dealing with CES can be found.


  • Willow's Wearable Breast Pump is a cord-free, attachment-free breast pump that discreetly fits in a woman’s bra launched in 2017.
  • To solve the problem of being tethered to a machine several times a day, the pump allows mobility and has no wires or tubing.
  • It is also quiet enough for conference calls with no need to press a mute button.
  • Willow is selected as one of TIME’s 25 Best Inventions.
  • The company is founded and led by CEO Naomi Kelman and is specialized in making products that re-imagines how to make women’s lives easier, healthier and fuller.
  • The company raised $27.5 million in Series B in December 2017.
  • Willow is currently listed as an exhibitor for CES 2020, and no reports on the company’s difficulties to register for CES can be found.


  • LA LUER is a company focused on helping consumers simplify your skincare routine by making technology-infused facials accessible, quick, and highly effective.
  • Their product, MIRA is a non-invasive facial device that detox, tone, lift, and infuse, to in less than 5 minutes.
  • MIRA integrates 6 of the most effective skincare technologies, including LED, micro-currents, ultrasonic waves, heat, ion therapy, and sonic pulsations work in a single device.
  • The device addressed a multitude of skin concerns and integrated everything into one small, compact device.
  • LA LUER is founded and led by CEO Nicole Chau in 2017 and has between 11-50 employees.
  • LA LUER is currently listed as an exhibitor for CES 2020, and no reports on the company’s difficulties to register for CES can be found.


  • IBM is led by Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Virginia Rometty.
  • IBM is a leading cloud platform and cognitive solutions company.
  • It is on of the world’s biggest technology company and the second most valuable global brand.
  • IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software and offers infrastructure services, hosting services, and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.
  • Operating since 1911, IBM employs over 380,000 employees in 170 countries worldwide, including over 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. IBM operates five major business segments: Cognitive Solutions, Global Business Services, Technology Services & Cloud Platforms, Systems, and Global Financing.
  • Rometty is joined by five other female colleagues at the senior executive level, covering respective roles including three senior vice presidents and two chief suite level officers.
  • IBM is currently listed as an exhibitor for CES 2020 and no reports on IBM’s difficulties to register for CES can be found.


  • Additional female-led companies/innovations featured in CES 2020 include Crave, Lioness, AMD and Valley Electronics.
  • CES 2019 has made several efforts to address the widespread belief of its gender orientated biases.
  • These include featuring four female speakers out of the nine total, toning down on “booth babes”, and offering private pods for pumping breast milk.
  • Critics cite the lack of childcare support, low women turnout, and the hiring of “fitness models”, young women wearing tight-fitting outfits, to demo products as areas that require improvement.


A total of 53 companies are officially listed as "featured exhibitors" for CES 2020. None of them feature female CEOs or female-led innovations. We, therefore, focused on enlisting companies that exhibiting but not in the "featured" list.
Two female-led companies that developed products/ innovations for female users are Lora DiCarlo and Willow Pump.
LA LEUR and IBM are placed lower in the list because both males and females alike can use their products.
LA LEUR’s founder and CEO is a woman and IBM's CEO and 5 of its top management are women. To prioritize diversity in the product range, we decided to exclude Crave and Lioness from the list of five. They, like Lora DiCarlo, are in the female sexual health segment. While Valley Electronics is a female-led company that develops products for female users, the company was excluded because it is not based in the US.
No reports regarding any registration difficulties for the parties listed above were found. This may be due to their successful registration as a CES exhibitor currently.