This January, CES will celebrate its 50th anniversary. A lot has changed since the first CES in 1967. For starters, there were only a handful of product categories, ranging from CB radios and color televisions to transistor radios, and 117 exhibiting companies. Fifty years later, CES 2017 will span more than 2.4 million net square feet, feature more than 3,800 innovative tech companies, and draw some 165,000 attendees.
Much like the majority of industries in 1967, women executives were scarce in the consumer technology market. Today, women are breaking barriers across every major global industry from automotive, engineering, aerospace, science, manufacturing and, yes, technology.
In the same way, five decades later, CES continues to break barriers. CES 2017 will showcase and drive the innovations of the future while spotlighting the latest in smart home, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, drones, robotics, driverless cars, content, wearables and so much more.
As the tech industry continues to evolve, spurring new products, new categories and new market growth, we now often see women leading the charge. When I started in 1989, it is fair to say that not many women walked the floors of CES, and even fewer were heading up companies.
Now, it is exciting to see programs like Women in CE that honor some of our industry’s most dynamic women, and world-renowned entrepreneur Shelly Zalis hosting programs like The Girl’s Lounge, an exclusive gathering place for women executives to network, collaborate and inspire one another.
CES remains the launchpad for game-changing innovation, with products and services debuting at the show that fit one common purpose: to make life better — more convenient, more efficient and more fun. The innovations at CES are designed for everyone, including kids, seniors and, of course, women. New technologies are improving our daily lives, from smart-home tech that notifies when kids are home from school, to smart clothing that tracks biometrics, to 24-hour temperature trackers for infants, and safe watches designed to alert 911 in emergency situations. Smart-home technologies are helping us all better manage our busy work and home lives.
Women are passionate about technology, and this is not a new thing. In fact, more than a decade ago we conducted a survey asking women which they would prefer: a 1-carat diamond ring or an HDTV. It was innovation over bling for the win as HDTV won out.
Technology has come a long way since 1967, and women are now playing a larger role than ever before in shaping the future of innovation. At our recent Innovate! and Celebrate event in September we held a start-up competition with 50 start-ups — half of those startups were founded by women. However, there’s still progress to be made and work to be done. Currently, there are only 27 women CEOs at S&P 500 companies. While that’s a record, it still only accounts for an underwhelming 5 percent.
Women are redefining traditional leadership and blazing the trail for the future. From speakers, conferences, special events and programs, CES 2017 will showcase the innovative strides and impact women have on the global technology industry.
Hope to see you there this upcoming Jan. 5-8, 2017, in Las Vegas.
Karen Chupka is senior VP, CES and corporate business strategy, at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and a member of TWICE’s Women Of Tech advisory board.