Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), in charge of the giant 53rd CES trade show hosted in Las Vegas on 7-10 January 2020, has defended the decision to invite Ivanka Trump for a keynote session.
Shapiro said that the US President’s daughter had done "great work" and would help focus attendees' minds on job-related issues for the future.
The President of the US trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies and which owns and produces the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was quoted by the BBC as saying he did not regret the decision.
"There's a lot of focus on jobs of the future, and certainly the keynote that I'll be doing with Ivanka Trump will be focusing on... how industry is working with government on this very important issue," he said.
Shapiro will interview Ivanka Trump - who serves as a jobs creation adviser to the president - when she appears on stage on Tuesday, 7 January.
He did not elaborate whether the first daughter’s invitation had been his organisation's idea or if the White House had requested the address.
The decision to offer the US president's daughter one of the show's "keynote" sessions has sparked controversy, with critics claiming other women with more expertise have failed to be granted lower-profile slots at the trade show.
After a press release before Christmas by the US Consumer Technology Association that the first daughter would headline a discussion about "the path to the future of work", Twitter exploded with people tweeting their objections to the invite, with many using the hashtag #BoycottCES.
"I was far from pleased at the news and the reason is certainly not found in my political beliefs," blogged CES regular Carolina Milanesi from the tech consultancy Creative Strategies.
"The reason for my upset is rooted in the fact that there are many more women who are in tech and are entrepreneurs who could run circles around Trump on how technology will impact the future of work."
Entrepreneur Rachel Sklar tweeted:
“This is a terrible choice on so many levels but also - what an insult to the YEARS AND YEARS of protesting how few women were invited to keynote & being told it was a pipeline problem while similarly-situated men were elevated. There are so many great, qualified women. Shame."
This is a terrible choice on so many levels but also - what an insult to the YEARS AND YEARS of protesting how few women were invited to keynote & being told it was a pipeline problem while similarly-situated men were elevated. There are so many great, qualified women. Shame. https://t.co/nV5wBX31tW— (((Rachel Sklar))) ❄️ (@rachelsklar) December 30, 2019
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and star of the US TV series Shark Tank said he wasn’t particularly troubled about the invite being sent to Ivanka Trump, adding:
"No one has to go to her keynote if they don't want to."
Netizens also weighed in on the invite.
What exactly has Ivanka done for technology to deserve this?— David Frank (@comgeek25) December 31, 2019
The event should be boycotted— Marc R Gagné MAPP 🍁 (@OttLegalRebels) January 1, 2020
How dare they. Ivanka Trump is utterly unqualified to be addressing CES. People should boycott this meeting— Susan Higgins (@prepostmeltdown) January 2, 2020
What is Ivanka's role in and contribution to Consumer Electronics, exactly? When there are so many women who have done more in a day than she has in her lifetime!— Joe Ortenzi 🇨🇦 🇮🇹 🇦🇺 (@wheelyweb) January 1, 2020
EPIC choice! Even if it's just to get you crying about it. WE WANT A WOMAN, WE WANT A WOMAN....... not that one. 😫😫😫😂🤣— PoppaGs MERICA (@BigPoppaGJL58) January 1, 2020
Some fans, however, defended the choice of Ivanka Trump to adrdress the event's session.
Excellent choice for a speaker. Cannot wait to vote for her father again in November— Steve Sokol (@SteveSokol1) January 5, 2020
Seriously? STFU. CES is being recognized by the Whitehouse and a female advisor has been sent. That's exactly what was wanted and now you complain? Admit it, you're just a trump hater.— Bryan Peretto (@TwinHillsBrew) January 4, 2020
CES, owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), attracts the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers, serving as the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.
In total, CES 2020 is scheduled to host eight keynote-branded events, featuring external speakers. Nine of the speakers and moderators are men and eight are women, excluding CTA staff.
One session features both the US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and President Trump's top technology advisor Michael Kratsios.