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Jefferson Graham previews the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where new smart home products using technology from Google, Amazon and Apple will be unveiled.
USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Next week more than 180,000 people will cram Las Vegas convention halls for technology’s biggest show, a flashy annual preview of new gadgets and trends. 

But this year many of them will be paying less attention to what’s on display and more to what’s not.

Not a single woman landed one of the keynote addresses that headline the show, the second straight year these top spots were claimed by men.

An online backlash has erupted, generating a hashtag (#CESSoMale) and a torrent of social media posts. Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer of JPMorgan Chase, who has spoken at CES herself, drew up her own list of 21 women headliners “in less time than it took to drink coffee.” HP’s global chief marketing officer, Antonio J. Lucio, tweeted: “All men should boycott @CES if women are not invited to speak! Insulting in this day and age.” 

One activist plans to storm the conference to turn the national spotlight on just how parched this trade show conference in the Nevada desert is for women in key roles. 

Gender Avenger co-founder Gina Glantz says she’ll pass out stickers — “women’s voices count” — and she’ll encourage CES attendees to use the Gender Avenger app that creates a gender diversity pie chart for conference sessions — bright future (40% or more women), cloudy with a chance of patriarchy (30% to 39%) and thunderstorm of inequality (below 30%) — so they can be posted to social media. 

“The goal is to keep this at the forefront of the conversation as people go from session to session,” says Glantz, who started Gender Avenger three years ago to hound and shame the $30 billion dollar conference industry into putting more women in keynotes and on panels. 

The trade group that organizes CES and handpicks the speakers is the Consumer Technology Association. Its senior vice president of corporate business strategy, Karen Chupka, points to participation elsewhere at CES, with a quarter of speaking slots…