Women's tech conference hijacked by men claiming to be 'non-binary'

At the recent Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in Orlando, Florida, held from September 26-29 and described as 'the world’s largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists,' there was a social media video showing a significant number of male attendees identifying as 'nonbinary' to join recruiting lines.

Women's tech conference hijacked by men claiming to be 'non-binary'
ABC Action News
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A career-focused conference designed to enhance job opportunities for women in the tech industry saw an influx of men who identified as "non-binary."

At the recent Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in Orlando, Florida, which took place between September 26-29 and was described as “the world’s largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists,” a video emerged on social media showing a significant number of male attendees joining recruiting lines after identifying as “nonbinary.” This has sparked a considerable reaction, especially among female attendees who, according to The New York Post, paid as much as $1,300 for their conference tickets.

Many women took to express their feelings toward the event organizer, AnitaB, whose company is said to focus on helping women and non-binary technologists succeed in the field.

The viral video shows scores of men meeting with recruiters with women waiting behind them.

In a statement, AnitaB addressed the concerns, saying that 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 statement, posted on LinkedIn, was scorched by numerous women who said their experience was ruined, and that they were intimidated by men who skipped panel discussions and seminars, as well as showcasing aggressive behavior to get first in line.

A female attendee of the conference responded to AnitaB's statement, reporting that she observed “escalating violence from men” during the event.

“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 lambasted the company for claiming that it provided 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, addressed men abusing the ability to identify as non-binary to gain access.

“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.”

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