Future Tense

Do Cosmetic Mirrors and Nail Files Belong at an Event for Female Engineers?

Goldman Sachs brought branded mirrors and other swag to the Women Engineers Code conference at Harvard because the firm was the major sponsor.

Photo by Yuqi Hou.

Engineering conferences aren’t usually known for handing out personal care items as free swag, but at Harvard’s Women Engineers Code, an event organized by undergraduates, Goldman Sachs was touting cosmetic mirrors and nail files in addition to the usual keychains and T-shirts. Because women!

Goldman Sachs was the biggest sponsor at the event, and the New York Times reports that they also brought more typical fare like headphone cords. A Goldman Sachs spokesperson told the Times, “We are strong supporters of efforts to recruit and retain women in technology. We apologize if the gifts gave anyone offense.” And Harvard Women in Computer Science, the group that organized the event, said in a statement that they had been expecting the nail files and put them out for attendees as an option.

Google was also a sponsor of the conference, but apparently brought only branded socks. One attendee put a photo of Goldman’s swag on Instagram with the caption “#goldmansachs brought nail files and mirrors to the women’s coding event. Not sure if this is #sexyfeminism or gender stereotyping.” Maybe nail files and small mirrors should be in the standard swag repertoire instead of being relegated to a women’s conference. We all have hang nails and get stuff in our teeth.