Ivanka Trump's talk at tech conference ignites backlash

White House adviser Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans Bank executives sought guidance on small business loan program from Ivanka Trump: report MORE on Tuesday was met with a friendly reception from the crowd while delivering a keynote address at the CES tech gathering in Las Vegas, the nation's biggest consumer electronics trade show. 

But her appearance ignited intense backlash from women and other tech workers who argued that her background did not align with what the annual tech conference is meant to represent.

Hundreds of Twitter users tweeted the hashtag #BoycottCES to voice frustration with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE's daughter's appearance. 

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Brianna Wu, a video game developer who is running for Congress in Massachusetts, tweeted before the event that Ivanka Trump "is not a woman in tech" and that her invitation to CES was a "lazy attempt to emulate diversity." 

"This is an insult to women in technology, we did hard times in University, engineering, math, and applied sciences," technology investor Elisabeth Fullerton wrote on Facebook. "This is what extreme privilege and entitlement get you. It's not what you know it's who you know I guess."

Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the show's organizer, has faced scrutiny in the past over the event's lack of diversity.

The show had zero female keynote speakers in 2016 and 2017, The Guardian noted, and has led CTA to invite more women to speak in subsequent years. The show also sparked outrage last year after revoking an innovation award for a female-led sex device company. CES later reversed the decision and apologized. 

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Trump spoke with CTA President Gary Shapiro for about 40 minutes during a discussion on the “path to the future of work."

Among other things, she touted the administration's efforts to work with tech companies to train Americans to learn new skills and develop apprenticeships. The conversation touched on areas that Trump, the president's eldest daughter, has focused on in her role in the White House. 

“It’s not only about training for the jobs of the future,” she said. “People need to be thinking about investing in their current workforce so they can enable those people to do their same job using different equipment tomorrow.”

She noted that a White House council she helps lead would start a nationwide advertising campaign encouraging people to look into different paths to employment, such as apprenticeships. 

“We need to raise awareness about many options that exist,” she said. She also celebrated the low unemployment rate under her father's administration, saying that every American can "secure employment" if they want to.   

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CTA defended Trump's inclusion in the event, saying in a statement to The Washington Post that it annually "invites officials from every White House — both Republicans and Democrats — to participate in and speak at CES." Shapiro also told the BBC that he didn't regret conducting a keynote session with Trump, adding that she's done "great work." 

“We appreciate Ivanka Trump coming to CES 2020 and speaking before a full-capacity audience on the critical issue of the future of jobs because of advancements in technology,” Shapiro said in a statement to The Hill. “Developing our future workforce has bipartisan support, and the discussion reflected the importance of and need for a strategic government-industry approach on the future American workforce.” 

But Rachel Sklar, a co-founder of Change The Ratio, which increases visibility and opportunity for women in tech and new media, argued that her inclusion was an insult considering the efforts to increase diversity at the conference. 

"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," Sklar said on Twitter. "There are so many great, qualified women. Shame."

Trump is one of a few government officials appearing at the CES tech gathering this year. Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Trump administration rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards MORE is scheduled to give a keynote speech on Wednesday about the current state of innovation and her department's support for new technologies. 

Trump has come under scrutiny before for her work inside the White House. After a video showed her conversing with world leaders at last year's Group of 20 summit, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Twitter that "being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification."