Microsoft Thinks Women Use Computers for Weddings and Babies

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 4 2014 6:43 PM

Microsoft Thinks Women Use Computers for Weddings and Babies

windows
Women using a Microsoft OneNote. Proof that they use computers sometimes!

Photo from Microsoft.

Women build computers, program computers, and use computers every day, but with its new "Honestly" ad campaign Microsoft is trying to bring us back to what really matters to women: marriage and babies. The campaign shows off products like the OneNote and Windows and touts features like touchscreens and affordability. But the crucial thing here is wedding bands, bridesmaids dresses, and moms providing laptops for their kids. Don't lose sight of that.

The OneNote ad below depicts a bride-to-be meeting with her (sometimes difficult, but always well-meaning!) bridesmaids to prepare for her wedding. The woman says that the OneNote is convenient for things like comparing wedding bands and using Pinterest, the only woman-friendly website out there. In an older ad, a woman waits for her kids to finish a karate class and talks about how nice it was to find an affordable laptop running Windows that her kids could all share. She says that her kids use their Windows laptop for homework, chatting, and playing games. So kids of both genders seem to know how to do stuff on computers, just not adult women.

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They're funny, sure, but ads that misrepresent the relationship between technology and women aren't harmless. They perpetuate the idea that women are less equipped to interact with technology and imply that specific devices must be marketed to women to be appealing. Microsoft may think it's a good idea to work with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce on their ads, but the partnership is producing some problematic results.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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