The event operates on an honor system, but that system was not honored by the men who crashed the event.
The Promise of a Safe Space
Named after a pioneering computer scientist, The Grace Hopper Celebration advertises itself as the globe’s biggest annual meeting of women and nonbinary tech workers.
An Opportunity to Level the Playing Field
“Prepare to be immersed in a vibrant atmosphere of growth at GHC 23, the world’s largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists,” the conference’s site advertised, promising an opportunity to, “Connect with like-minded individuals, gain insights from luminaries and esteemed technology leaders, forge lasting connections, and supercharge your skillset.”
A Pricey Affair
Taking place in Orlando, Florida tickets for the event cost between $649 and $1,298.
Entrants were given the opportunity to meet face-to-face with sponsors such as Apple, Amazon, Salesforce, and Google.
There were also opportunities to network, make friends, and attend panels and symposiums.
Past conferences saw upwards of 30,000 attendees, making for a competitive event.
The competition in 2023 was even more fierce thanks to what organizers called “an increase in participation of self-identifying males.”
An Uneven Split
Several attendees told NPR that they estimated a split of roughly 40/60 of men to women and non-binary folx, particularly at the career expo.
Liars in the Midst
Cullen White, the chief impact officer with AnitaB.org, the nonprofit that puts together the event, said that many of the participants had lied about their gender identity when they registered for the conference.
Banning Men Entirely Would Be Discrimination
AnitaB.org addressed concerns that men be banned entirely from the event by pointing to federal law that disallows discrimination based on gender.
Men Bully and Harass Attendees
LinkedIn was laden with comments decrying the men who had been offered interviews and even attended after-parties.
These men, many commenters noted, were rude, bothering, harassing, and even hitting on non-male attendees. Men were also overheard making misogynistic remarks.
A Safe Place Made Unsafe
Bo Young Lee, AnitaB’s advisory president, shared a video on LinkedIn on Friday to address the criticism.
She said the event, which previously was a “Safe and loving and embracing” place, instead made many attendees feel “Unsafe, physically and psychologically.”
Men Stealing Opportunities
Many noted that the men didn’t attend the panels or the seminars but, rather, proceeded straight for the job fair, with many men shoving and cutting their way to the front of lines.
Layoffs Hit Tech in 2023
Tech jobs are thought to be a safe haven for employees looking for stable, well-paying careers.
Unfortunately, industry-wide layoffs earlier in 2023 left hundreds of thousands unemployed.
Women Disproportionately Affected by Layoffs
According to The Women Tech Network, women were disproportionately affected by the layoffs, constituting 69.2% of all downsized positions.
Women Underrepresented in Tech
This figure is exacerbated by the existing gender imbalance in STEM, where women have just 26% of the jobs, and in tech in particular, where women account for 24% of all employees, according to recent data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
An Even Greater Stress for International Workers
The stress is even greater for international workers who may lose their visa if they don’t find new jobs quickly enough.
A Glimmer of Hope in Job Reports
Some may find solace that job reports have been defying expectations, with payrolls growing by 336,000 in September
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The post Invasion of the Manspreaders! Women’s Career Event Overtaken by Men and Non-binary Attendees first appeared on Fistful of Dollars.
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