The tech industry has always been a male-dominated field. As of 2021, men held more than 73% of all tech jobs. Because of this, efforts have been made to include other genders in the world of technology. The 2023 Grace Hopper Conference held in Orlando, Florida, aimed to be the “world’s largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists.” However, the event was promptly bombarded by men trying to advance in tech roles that were not intended for them.
One TikTok user named Gabby attended the conference and documented her dismay over the amount of male attendants. The 23-second video cuts to various scenes throughout the conference where uninvited men were present. The video was shared to her account, @yooooogabbagabbaa, along with the caption, “Waited in line to talk to a recruiter and a MALE skipped to the front and cut off our convo.” Gabby’s text overlay on the video expressed her disappointment at the event being overrun with men, writing, “POV: You’re at a women in tech conference watching the men take jobs meant for the girlies.” Men could be seen sprinkled throughout the conference talking to recruiters from various tech companies and trying to network with powerful people in the tech industry.
“Why would a man be there?” a female audibly asks in the background of a video, while another woman responds with, “No, it’s actually pissing me off.” The Grace Hopper Conference is an annual event that started in 1994. The organization’s website defined its intention of welcoming women and non-binary techies into the industry with open arms. “The Way Forward is a rallying cry for the entire tech industry to come together and create a more inclusive, equitable future,” it said. The event also included special guests such as singer Janelle Monae and Peloton Instructor Tunde Oyeneyin.
Thousands of women in tech like Gabby spent a pretty penny to attend the exclusive event. Tickets to the conference, which went on for three days, went for $1,298. If someone wanted to attend virtually, the ticket price was slashed in half to $649. Although the conference was not meant for men, they did pay to attend the event and nobody stopped them from entering the facility. While some would argue that the men had every right to be there, others would vehemently disagree.
Gabby’s comment section was flooded with opinions on her video, which has already gotten over 340,000 views. “This is actually so infuriating,” wrote one commenter, while another upset commenter added, “I WAS WORKING MY BOOTH AND A MAN SPOKE OVER ME ABOUT MY OWN COMPANY.” A separate commenter voiced her confusion as to how men were granted access to the conference. “I was at the Tapia conference and so many guys were talking about how they were gonna go to Grace Hopper and I was sooo confused as to how they even got in,” she wrote. Women who attended the conference saw first-hand how men overstepped and tried to capitalize on opportunities that were meant for women. “I literally was in the community lounge having a conversation with this woman and a man handed her his resume! She was like I’m not a recruiter?” wrote an attendee.
Women and non-binary attendees of the Grace Hopper Conference were so unhappy at the presence of men that the organization was prompted to issue a statement. Advisory President Bo Young Lee wrote, “We prepared, and we did our best, but it was not enough.” The organization’s Vice President of Programs Amanda Hill-Attkisson even made a speech at the conference to address the situation. “Gender discrimination, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, discounting, interruption, less pay, you name it and we fight it,” she said in the speech before adding, “But it’s not supposed to happen here.”