In my latest copy of Engineering and Technology from the IET I noticed the following piece that reads as if it has come speeding from the 1950s.
Do you know what WAF is?” LG Electronics president and CEO James Kim asked the audience at the IFA consumer-electronics show in Berlin in August. The answer came back from the floor immediately: “woman acceptance factor”.Has anyone read anything so patronisingly unfunny, outside of a Jimmy Carr gig?
Kim was far from alone among executives at IFA in citing it and although he introduced WAF as a joke, he thought that there was money to be made by solving one of the stereotypical conflicts of the sexes. “No longer does the man make all the decisions regarding electronic products for the home,” he claimed. “By creating products that offer the ‘woman acceptance factor’, we can please both parties.
This casual, patronising, sexism is what is deemed acceptable content, in the 21st century, for a magazine from a prestigious professional organisation. Whatever happened to feminism?
The argument is not only sexist it's also wrong. For the past twenty, nay thirty, years consumer electronics have used design and aesthetics as selling points. Look at the queue outside the Apple store for the aesthetically pleasing but over-hyped iPhone: nary a woman in sight. People want well designed consumer electronics that do not have the appearance and appeal of a brick. And that's "people" of all genders, not just people of one gender. To argue otherwise is to perpetuate a patronising, unhelpful and offensive stereotype that serves to perpetuate the stereotype of engineers as socially unaware geeks who wouldn't recognise a feminist if one came up and rammed an iPhone where the sun fails to shine.