On one hand, Goldman Sachs showed its support for women in the tech industry with a huge investment—the biggest of any sponsor—in Harvard University’s Women Engineers Code conference last weekend. On the other, it decided the best freebies to give the conference’s attendees were cosmetic mirrors and nail files.
One of the event’s attendees, who goes by the name yuqz on Instagram, posted a photo of the mirrors Goldman Sachs was handing out, with the question of whether the gift was sexist:
One commenter asked whether yuqz had used the nail file yet, and she replied, “No, but it's sitting there, in my cabinet, waiting for my nails to chip after a long day of coding.”
The New York Times
reports that Goldman gave attendees T-shirts and key chains along with the mirrors and nail files. The event’s organizers reportedly encouraged the firm to bring gifts that would appeal to women.
After the photo of the mirrors gained some media attention, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs offered this statement: “We are strong supporters of efforts to recruit and retain women in technology. We apologize if the gifts gave anyone offense.”
The event organizers, Harvard Women in Computer Science, didn’t think an apology was necessary. They said the nail files and mirrors were optional gifts.
“We gladly accept any and all (free) nail files, nail polish, game consoles, food and/or anything else our wonderful sponsors want to send our way! We promise we’ll put it to a good cause,” the group said in an email.
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Lisa Needham, a blogger at Happy Time Nice People
, wrote that the gifts were insulting, and not just because they were sexist, but also because they’re cheap:
This is some seriously low-rent swag, people. Nail files? Cosmetic mirrors? What do those things run, about $10 per 100, tops? You’re GOLDMAN F--KING SACHS and you made approximately eleventy billion dollars last week and you’re sponsoring an event at HARVARD and you couldn’t spring for, say, a nice leather folio with some discreet branding?