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Apple tries to make a woman smile, doesn't exactly succeed

Technically Incorrect: During Apple's event, a Photoshop demonstration could have featured anything. Instead, well you know that thing about too few women in tech?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


"Go on, darlin', give us a smile." James Martin/CNET

"How are we going to make this Photoshop thing exciting? How about making Steve Ballmer look even redder?"

"Nah, we like Microsoft now."

"How about making a serious woman smile?"

"Great. Everyone loves seeing a woman smile. Let's do it!"

Yes, someone at Apple thought it was a very fine idea.

Perhaps they were were moved by the imagery of the great Donald Trump, who mused that Megyn Kelly had blood coming out of her nose and her wherever.

Women are moody and angry. Men exist to make them smile.

And so it was that during Apple's latest event Wednesday, an iPad Pro demonstration by Adobe of its Photoshop Fix app offered a woman with bright red lipstick yet dour expression being magically transformed by a nerd.

She beamed. Men applauded.

Others, though -- women, for example -- looked at this and sighed. Tech has a bad enough problem not only with recruiting women but also with treating them respectfully and equally.

So along comes the most watched (whether you like it or not) tech event of the year and here's a shtick where we make a woman smile.

It's not as if Apple isn't conscious of its diversity problems. At the event, the company's senior designer Jen Folse demoed Apple TV. 3D4Medical's Irene Walsh presented her company's Essential Anatomy 5 app. Michelle Peluso, Gilt Groupe's CEO, also talked about Apple TV.

Previously, most Apple events had been a series of men promising magic, with the lone fascination being whether their shirts were tucked in or out.

Some might (will) mumble that making a model smile with Photoshop is what happens on shoots all the time. (Please don't.) They might forget that the very essence of how the media regularly Photoshops women is one that is being severely challenged. Keira Knightley is just one who has created her own form of protest.

Moreover, Apple is the company of detail. It insists that it puts more thought and more heart into everything it does.

Tim Cook has declared that Apple needs to do much more about diversity. He's said that the best products come from diversity.

Did no one look at this demo -- such events enjoy many rehearsals -- and wonder whether another example, any other example might be a touch more, well, 21st century?

Instead, it came across suggesting that a 1950s "Come on, baby, give us a smile," entreaty is still entirely appropriate.

Apple wasn't immediately available for comment. However, some took to Twitter to express everything from sadness to incredulity to anger.

As my colleague Rachel King tweeted: "Did they really just use Photoshop in a demo to force a woman to smile? How is this really happening?"

How indeed.