By “fixing” the smile of a woman in its yearly product unveiling earlier this week, technology behemoth Apple has been accused of sexism. The act occurred while demonstrating the new iPad Pro, when Adobe’s director of mobile design, Eric Snowden, edited an image of a woman in order to digitally manipulate, or “fix”, her mouth so that the woman appeared to be smiling.
Snowden said to the crowd at hand that he wished the woman had “more of a smile” before proceeding with the image manipulation.
While the audience applauded at the time, it was not long before accusations of sexism began quickly rolling in.
One twitter user wrote, “Now Adobe can literally "Fix" pouty women for you. Way to go guys!"
Other users critiqued both Apple and Adobe for not thinking through the situation better.
Many people believed that the situation was reminiscent of men asking women to smile. This demand is often considered to be demeaning and rude by women. Founder and CEO of Women in Technology International, Carolyn Leighton, said that while she doubts anything malicious was intended, she believes that the photo subject was a poor choice.
Leighton said, “It just triggers this feeling that so many people have. It's just like when these companies put men in front of the camera instead of women. People are out of touch with the fact that women are equal partners in the field."
The criticism continued to pour in from there.
Spectators soon brought up the fact that only three women were featured in the presentation but only one of the three women was an employee of Apple.
Meanwhile, more than ten men were included in the demonstration.
Critics also complained that the woman that was present talked about shipping, a relatively unglamorous and low-level role. It’s also worth mentioning that at an Apple even in June of 2014, no women presented.
Vice President of Government Relations at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Lisa Maatz was also disappointed by the lack of female representation. She stated, “We need role models. To have Apple's big launch only featuring a few women, doesn't give girls an encouraging message about technology being a future career.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview earlier this year that the failure to reach out to women lies with the tech industry as a whole. However, he admitted that greater diversity was required.
A report from the AAUM indicated that only 26% of jobs related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are held by women. In 1990, women held 35% of such jobs. Meanwhile, a report from last year showed that seven out of every ten Apple employees were male. But Apple is taking steps to improve the situation, as the company says that it has hired 11,00 women over the past year, which is a 65% increase from the year prior.