The Grace Hopper Celebration, a prominent women-only tech conference in the United States, faced intrusion from male attendees who registered as “women,” “trans,” or “non-binary.” The event, named after computer scientist Grace Hopper, gathered women in computing and is sponsored by tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Bloomberg. Held annually, this year’s conference in Orlando, Florida, saw a significant influx of male participants, despite admission fees ranging from $649 to $1300.
AnitaB.Org, the organization behind the conference, noted the “increase in participation of self-identifying males” and explained their inability to prohibit men’s attendance due to U.S. federal non-discrimination laws.
Bo Young Lee, president of the advisory at AnitaB.Org, expressed her disappointment on LinkedIn, emphasizing the conference’s mission to create a “safe and loving” environment. However, this year’s event left many feeling “unsafe, physically and psychologically,” as they witnessed outsiders intruding. The incident has fueled a desire to fight against such disruptions.
Cullen White, chief impact officer at AnitaB.org, acknowledged that some registrants “lied” about their gender identity, leading to men occupying valuable recruiting opportunities intended for women. This incident transpired during a challenging period for the tech industry, with significant job losses in 2022 and 2023.
Online reactions were mixed, with some condemning the intrusion while others found humor in the situation. Discussions also touched on broader issues of gender identity and inclusion in women’s spaces.
The incident at Grace Hopper underscores the complexities of addressing gender identity and inclusion within professional and communal contexts.