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Did Microsoft pull a Kendall Jenner with their “stay in STEM” ad?

This week, Pepsi released an ad featuring Kendall Jenner, showing what was supposed to be a “a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” only the ad fell flat, and Pepsi pulled it last night after suffering a day of social media humiliation.

Microsoft recently released a new ad of their own, too, and at least according to one blogger, they should be held to the same ridicule for their well meaning but off base message.

First, the ad. Microsoft showcased a group of girls, showing them at first becoming awed and inspired by the likes of HoloLens, and then revealing that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degrees:

Writer and playwright Monica Byrne, in a blog post yesterday, takes exception to Microsoft’s apparent message that women should take it upon themselves to “stay in STEM.”

Byrne is offended by Microsoft’s message that it is somehow the girls’ responsibility to stick it out. Instead, she lists a number of reasons why women leave tech careers, including serial sexual harassment, discrimination, lower rates of pay, having their work published at significantly lower rates than for men, and more.

Byrne goes on to say

There’s a reason women and girls leave STEM. It is because STEM is so hostile to women that leaving the field is an act of survival.

Microsoft’s new ad hasn’t received the social media backlash Pepsi did, indeed the YouTube video has been viewed over 12 million times, but that doesn’t make Microsoft’s message any less cringeworthy. Tech has a gender problem, and it’s not that girls are just traipsing off to become housewives or find jobs in retail, it’s because they’re serially objectified, harassed, threatened and dismissed in a male dominated field. Where’s the cute ad about that, Microsoft?

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