A career-building conference intended to boost women’s opportunities to get a job in the tech industry was invaded by crowds of men who identified as “non-binary.”
The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) event held in Orlando, Florida, from September 26-29 was touted as “the world’s largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists.” A video circulating on social media showed scores of men attending the event and jumping into recruiting lines after identifying as “nonbinary,” causing outrage among women who paid up to $1,300 for a ticket to attend the conference, The New York Post reported.
Many women took to social media to express their frustration slamming the event organizer AnitaB — a company that says it focuses on helping “women and non-binary technologists succeed.” The viral video shows men meeting with recruiters while women waited behind them in line.
Males took over a women in tech career conference by registering as non-binary. pic.twitter.com/CcGByMt4H1
— Ren (@rottengirl) October 3, 2023
AnitaB addressed the issue in a statement, saying they saw “an increase in participation of self-identifying males,” but dismissed calls to ban men from future events, writing that they must “comply with federal [nondiscrimination] law” and provide “an inclusive space.”
“We are at an inflection point,” said AnitaB, the company that organized the GHC conference. “The Way Forward for AnitaB.org involves a commitment to progress and inclusivity for women and non-binary technologists, prompting us to continually evaluate our policies, procedures, and your overall event experience.”
The company’s statement, which it posted on LinkedIn, was blasted by numerous women who said their experience at the conference was ruined and they felt intimidated by men who skipped panel discussions and seminars and showcased aggressive behavior to get in line first at the career fair.
One woman who attended the conference replied to AnitaB’s statement, saying she witnessed “escalating violence from men” at the conference.
“I’m beyond sad and disappointed in AnitaB.org for its underwhelming response to this situation, especially because of how much time and energy I put into this conference,” said Nivrithi Garimella, an undergraduate studying Computer Science at the University of Florida. “I went in full of excitement and had to leave promptly from witnessing escalating violence from men (but wait, you want me to call them allies right?). I prepared months in advance for what ended up being one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. A short speech and a post on LinkedIn is not even close to enough. Do better.”
Another woman blasted the company for claiming it was “providing an inclusive space.”
“‘Providing an inclusive space’ for male attendees to physically shove and intimidate women while taking their interview slots and buying up tickets so they can’t attend the sold out event 🤣 Complacency and silence in times of oppression is siding with the oppressor,” computer engineer Yesenia S. wrote. “Never attending this farce of a conference again and highly encourage all women who attended to file a dispute with their credit card for not receiving the goods/service they paid for when purchasing the $1300 conference ticket.”
AnitaB Chief Impact Officer Cullen White, a man, addressed the obvious ploy by men to identify as “non-binary” to gain access to career opportunities.
“Yesterday, it became clear that there are a far greater number of cisgender men attending than we anticipated,” White said at the conference. “Simply put, some of you lied when you registered. And as evidenced by the stacks and stacks of resumes you’re passing out, you did so because you thought you could come here and take space to try and get a job.”