Defying critics, Ivanka Trump draws applause at tech show

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Ivanka Trump spoke at the CES technology conference Tuesday about the future of work, and included an anecdote about how she watched incarcerated women learn complicated coding skills.
Ivanka Trump attends the Doha Forum in the Qatari capital on Dec 14, 2019. PHOTO: AFP/HO/DOHA FORUM

LAS VEGAS (REUTERS) - US presidential adviser Ivanka Trump on Tuesday (Jan 7) touted government-industry collaboration to create jobs, drawing applause at a tech show that contrasted with the criticism she faced beforehand for her lack of tech experience.

The daughter of Republican President Donald Trump and a businesswoman, Ms Trump spoke at the annual CES tech conference in Las Vegas in the face of backlash from some industry officials, including women, who challenged her tech qualifications.

She said a White House council that she co-leads will launch a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage all pathways to jobs, including apprenticeships, and not just a college degree.

"We need to raise awareness about many options that exist," she told the audience.

Conference organisers defended Ms Trump's participation, saying she leads White House efforts on job creation and economic growth through workforce development, skills training and entrepreneurship.

In a statement issued by the White House on Tuesday, Ms Trump said she is pleased to see CES discussing the critical issue of workforce development.

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 Ms 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," Ms Milanesi said.

Video game developer Brianna Wu, who is running for US Congress as a Democrat in Massachusetts, criticised 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," Ms Wu said.

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