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Tech conference organizer faces backlash for using ‘fake female speakers’

An online tech conference organizer has recently faced backlash when it was accused of listing fake female speakers on his website.

The DevTernity Conference was scheduled to be held from December 7 to 8, featuring speakers from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. On their site, tickets are listed as sold out.

The author of the newsletter “The Pragmatic Engineer,” Gergely Orosz, made several posts on X (formerly Twitter) on November 25, taking a jab at the fake speaker profiles.

“If you bought tickets to DevTernity on 7-8 Dec you’ve been duped with fake speaker Anna Boyle who is still on the website,” he wrote. “A made up profile, AI image, no such staff eng at Coinbase.”

Orosz claimed that out of the three women—Kristine Howard, Julia Krisina, and Anna Boyko—who were scheduled to speak at DevTernity, Krisina and Boyko were fake profiles created by the event organizers. The intention was to make the event appear diverse to “successfully attract some of the most heavy-hitter men speakers in tech.”

Eduards Sizovs, the founder of the conference responded to his accusations on X and apologized for the confusion he caused. He also explained the origins of the three fake female profiles.

Sizovs said that he was able to secure two female panelists but they eventually withdrew their participation from the event. He admitted that he had left both speaker profiles up on the website while he continued to look for other speakers.

He clarified that the profiles were not an attempt to bolster the diversity of the event but a bad administration slip-up on his part.

“I noticed the issue in October, but my busy mind suggested delaying the fix until we finalized the program because 1) it was not a quick fix 2) it’s better to have that demo persona while I am searching for the replacement speakers, 3) and the persona isn’t part of the schedule anyway,” he wrote.

Although he tried to control the situation, damage has already occurred, with nearly half of the 23 speakers listed on the conference website backing out, as reported by Bloomberg.

On November 28, he told Business Insider through email that he was calling the conference off.

His email wrote, “All resources will be updated as soon as wrongdoers stop attempting to hack / brute-force / social engineer our resources, including websites, social media profiles, and emails, which makes the situation worse.”

Sizocvs added, “It’s now obvious that someone wanted to intentionally damage the conference.” He also stated that he would be releasing a public statement on his blog.


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