It’s a fact: the role of women within the tech world remains very much in the minority compared to men. Although over the years, we’ve seen a reduction in this gender gap, hostility towards women in the sector persists. This is evident in the case of developer conferences like Devternity and JDKon, where it seems that some of the female speakers have been artificially generated.
The founder of Devternity, Eduard Sizovs, has faced severe criticism for creating fake female speakers for his events. As reported by The Verge, engineer Gergely Orosz revealed that several women listed as speakers at Devternity were not real. These individuals were fabricated by the organizers to make it seem like there were “more women speaking.”
Among the questioned profiles were those of Anna Boyko and Natalie Stadler, purported engineers from Coinbase. Orosz also raised doubts about the authenticity of another speaker, Alina Prokhoda, described as a senior engineer at WhatsApp and recognized by the Microsoft MVP program.
From Coinbase’s perspective, things are clear: they have no records of their employees participating in the Devternity conference, nor have they confirmed the authenticity of Anna and Natalie.
Faced with these serious accusations, Sizovs admitted that at least one of the female profiles was “self-generated,” with a randomly created name, photo, and Twitter profile. According to Sizovs, these were simply “tests” to check the functionality of the event website. He acknowledged it was a mistake and that they had chosen to keep this fictitious profile until finding a replacement.
Sizovs also mentioned that two of the female speakers scheduled to attend Devternity, Kristine Howard (an executive from Amazon Web Services) and Julia Kirsina (a tech influencer), canceled their participation. This resulted in a lower diversity of speakers than expected. While this might have motivated the inclusion of fake women, Sizovs also admits that it doesn’t justify their actions.