May 9, 2019 / 5:15 PM / a month ago

Sex toy firm buzzed to get tech award back after sexism outcry

LONDON, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A U.S. sex toy firm which was stripped of a prestigious robotics prize over claims its female hands-free personal massager was “obscene” has been re-awarded the honour after an outcry about sexism and misogyny.

The international consumer electronics show, CES, in Las Vegas, was thrown into controversy in January after organisers retracted an innovation prize awarded by a panel of experts to sex tech firm Lora DiCarlo for its Ose sex toy.

Lora Haddock, the female founder of Lora DiCarlo, accused CES organisers of gender bias, noting sex dolls marketed to men were featured at the exhibition as well as a virtual reality pornography company.

The award organisers at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) this week apologised and re-instated the prize, with Haddock welcoming the move but saying she would continue to press for more diversity within the CES and in technology.

“We recognize this gesture as movement in the right direction by CES, but this is merely the first step,” Haddock said in a statement posted on her firm’s website.

“Lora DiCarlo continues to remain committed to working with the CTA on driving long-term change to be more inclusive.”

Haddock said the CTA stripped the award from her company under a rule barring products deemed “immoral” or “obscene”, with a later letter claiming it was not eligible to enter the robotics category - despite having been picked as a winner.

The CTA declined to comment on the initial reason to remove the award but said a review uncovered “inconsistencies” in how the awards were handled.

"This prompted some important conversations internally and with external advisors and we look forward to taking these learnings to continue to improve the show," spokeswoman Jean Foster said in a statement. (Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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