Men took over a job fair intended for women and nonbinary tech workers


An event meant to be a career-builder for women and nonbinary tech workers turned into yet another symbol of the industry's gender imbalance after self-identifying men showed up in droves.

The Grace Hopper Celebration takes the name of a pioneering computer scientist and bills itself the world's largest annual gathering of women and nonbinary tech workers.

Tickets for the four-day event, which took place in Orlando, Fla., last week, ranged in price from $649 to $1,298, and included a coveted chance to meet one-on-one with sponsors such as Apple, Amazon, Salesforce and Google.

With some 30,000 annual attendees, that career expo was already a competitive space, according to past participants. But this year, access was even more limited by what the organizers described as "an increase in participation of self-identifying males."

Videos posted to social media showed scenes of men flocking around recruitersrunning into event venues, and cutting in front of women to get an interview slot. Footage showed a sea of people, hundreds deep, waiting in line for a chance to enter the career expo.

As one poster put it, "the Kens had taken over Barbieland."

@jennywnuo and im not talking about non-binary indivudals too. im taking about the self identifying men with he/him pronouns on their nametags — shamelessly attending #ghc solely for the career fair and taking opportunities from women. #gracehopperconference ♬ original sound - jenny nuo

Some of the attendees had lied about their gender identity on their conference registrations, said Cullen White, the chief impact officer with, the nonprofit that organizes the conference.

"Judging by the stacks and stacks of resumes you're passing out, you did so because you thought you could come here and take up space to try and get jobs," White said during the conference's plenary address. "So let me be perfectly clear: Stop. Right now. Stop."

Tech jobs were once a safe bet for workers looking for stable, lucrative careers. But an industrywide wave of layoffs earlier this year left hundreds of thousands of workers suddenly without a job.

Women were disproportionately affected by those cuts, making up 69.2% of all tech layoffs, according to The Women Tech Network. And that's on top of the industry's ongoing gender imbalance. Women hold just 26% of jobs across all STEM occupations and even less — 24% — in computer fields, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Bo Young Lee,'s president, said in a video post that the shift in demographics had robbed the conference of the joyous and supportive atmosphere that had helped previous conference-goers grow.

"We tried to create a safe space. And this week, we saw the outside world creep in," she said. "I can't guarantee you that we'll have solutions tomorrow. But I can promise you that we'll be working on solutions, and we won't do it in a bubble."

Earlier in the week, the organization addressed calls to ban men from the conference by saying that "male allyship is necessary" to work toward overall inclusivity and also that federal law prohibited discrimination based on gender.

NPR reached out to for additional comment but had not received a response by the time this article was published.

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