January 7, 2020 / 5:12 PM / 12 days ago

Ivanka Trump faces backlash as keynote speaker at tech conference

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, is facing a backlash for her lack of tech qualifications from industry officials ahead of her speech at a big annual technology industry show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Ivanka Trump will deliver the keynote speech at 2 p.m. PT (2200 GMT) at CES on “The Path to the Future of Work”, which will address technology’s role in creating and enabling the workforce of the future.

The conference organizers have defended inviting Trump saying she leads the White House’s efforts on job creation and economic growth through workforce development, skills training and entrepreneurship. But the decision to give her the opportunity has invited scathing criticism, especially from women in the tech industry. Women Who Tech group on Facebook expressed their displeasure at CES’ decision to invite Trump. Investor Elisabeth Fullerton wrote: “This is an insult to women in technology. We did hard times in university, engineering, math, and applied sciences. This is what extreme privilege and entitlement get you. It’s not what you know it’s who you know I guess.”

Others like tech analyst Carolina Milanesi expressed her displeasure in an op-ed published in Forbes. “The reason for my upset is rooted in the fact that there are many more women who are in tech and are entrepreneurs who could run circles around Trump on how technology will impact the future of work,” Milanesi said.

Video game developer Brianna Wu, who is running for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in Massachusetts, criticized the decision on Twitter. “Beyond the politics of the Trump administration - Ivanka is not a woman in tech. She’s not a CEO. She has no background. It’s a lazy attempt to emulate diversity – but like all emulation it’s not quite the real thing,” Wu said.

Ivanka Trump’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement released in December by CES, Trump said she is “excited to join this year for a substantive discussion on the how the government is working with private sector leaders to ensure American students and workers are equipped to thrive in the modern, digital economy.”

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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