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Chicago Conference Is The Latest In Tech Sexism Hall Of Shame

The Chicago tech community balked at this Techweek Chicago invite, which the event has now apologized for.
Courtesy of Techweek Chicago
The Chicago tech community balked at this Techweek Chicago invite, which the event has now apologized for.

Times may be slowly a-changin' for the Y-chromosome-dominant technology sphere, where it's becoming a tougher environment to objectify women, at least publicly.

We've already covered the sexist presentation slide that showed up at a software conference on Wednesday. But also this week, Techweek Chicago organizers sent out a party invite for a "Black Tie Rave" featuring beautiful, scantily clad women. It prompted a sponsor to pull out of its involvement and several prominent male tech leaders to distance themselves from the event.

Response came swiftly from Techweek's own Tech100 list of industry leaders. Paul Lee, a partner at venture fund Lightbank, asked to be taken off the Tech100 list "if this is what you stand for," he tweeted. So, too, did Brian Fitzpatrick from Google Chicago and Harper Reed, the former chief technology officer for Obama for America.

The four-year-old Techweek has issued an apology in the form of a note to its community. An excerpt from Iain Shovlin, Techweek's chairman:

"The 'Black Tie Rave' is a tongue-in-cheek branded event that has a serious mission: giving back... . The last thing we want to do is alienate anyone in the community, and we sincerely apologize if this event or imagery is offensive to you."

But Techweek media sponsor David Snyder, publisher of Crain's Chicago Business, said the apology fell short. Crain's on Wednesday pulled out of its sponsorship of the event.

"Techweek's response to their highly offensive promotion for their Black Tie Rave was not sufficient so we have decided to reconsider our involvement in this year's event," Snyder said, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

For those of you attending the Black Tie Rave on June 14, let us know how it goes or send me your photos.

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Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.
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