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Yet another Microsoft exec makes sexist remark

Blowing up aliens in a video game isn't really very womanly, thinks Microsoft. This sexist slip-up comes only a few months after the CEO told women to trust karma for getting a raise. Why do companies never learn?

india Updated: Dec 20, 2014 18:00 IST
Pranav Dixit
Pranav Dixit
Hindustan Times

It seems like Microsoft can't get sexism out of its system, never mind that high-profile apology by the CEO a few months ago for telling women to have "faith in the system" for getting a raise and to trust in karma. Now, the company's Marketing Director for Mobile Devices in India has made a similar sexist slip-up.

Raghuvesh Sarup was speaking on a panel at an event organised by technology news website at the J W Marriott in New Delhi earlier this week. Sarup was talking about the gaming experience on low-cost devices, when he gestured in the general direction of the audience and proclaimed: "The ladies in this room will probably not want to blow up aliens on their phones."

When the moderator of the panel called his comment out as sexist, Sarup's nonchalant reply was: "Maybe, that's just me."

People present at the event later said that Sarup's dismissal of an entire category of his customers based simply on their gender didn't sound like it was intentional or degrading. "He was just generalising and playing to a stereotype," said one delegate.

But it is statements like these that create these stereotypes in the first place. Mr. Sarup is Microsoft's marketing director for mobile devices in India, a majority of which run Windows Phone, a platform that espouses gaming as one of its strengths.This isn't the only reason you would expect him to be more guarded with his comments about women in gaming. When you represent your company on a public stage on the heels of a similar debacle that involved your CEO, the public expects you to be more cautious with your responses - not apathetic and irresponsible.

When we asked Microsoft for a response, a company spokeswoman simply said that "Mr. Sarup was illustrating a hypothetical example of customising marketing messages to different audiences." You know, just like that time when Microsoft marketed the Xbox One to its intended audience -- presumably males between 18 and 35 -- by writing a patronising letter ("Hey honey, not sure if you've heard, but Xbox One is available. That means we can start playing games like Dead Rising 3. I know, I know. You'd rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out on this. Xbox One is actually for both of us…").

Why do companies never learn?

First Published: Dec 20, 2014 17:30 IST