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DevTernity: the gender gap at this tech event was so bad the organisers created fake female speakers

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Tech Executives Drop Out of DevTernity Conference After Fake Speakers Revealed

Tech executives at Microsoft and Amazon have withdrawn from an upcoming DevTernity software conference after it was discovered that at least one of the female speakers listed on the agenda was not a genuine person but rather computer-generated.

Eduards Sizovs, the organiser of the DevTernity conference, acknowledged on social media that one of the featured speakers was an “auto-generated” woman with a false title. This admission came in response to allegations about several suspicious profiles on the conference websites that appeared to be generated by artificial intelligence, the Associated Press has reported.

Despite admitting to the fake profile, Sizovs denied that it was intended to conceal the “worse-than-expected level of diversity of speakers” in this year’s lineup. He also refused to apologise in a series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter. Sizovs did not respond to emailed requests for comment from AP.

The revelation of the fake profile prompted other speakers to swiftly withdraw from the virtual conference, which was scheduled to commence on December 7th.

“I discovered that I was the sole woman on the agenda, and it is possible that some of the other speakers advertised are not real,” stated Kristine Howard, an Amazon Web Services executive, in a post on LinkedIn.

Microsoft executive Scott Hanselman stated on X:

“This whole conference debacle is so disappointing. Speakers like myself, when invited to a conf will immediately say “who alls gonna be there?” I’ve my rules for participation posted on my site – including an inclusive lineup – for years. I was duped by the fake speakers also.”

Implications for Freelancers and IT Contractors

The DevTernity incident highlights the importance of due diligence for freelancers and IT contractors when evaluating potential speaking engagements. Freelancers and contractors, especially females, should carefully scrutinise conference organisers and their track records to ensure that they are reputable and committed to promoting diversity and inclusion.

Additionally, freelancers and contractors should actively network with other professionals in their field to expand their reach and increase their chances of being recognised as genuine experts. By building a strong reputation and showcasing their expertise, freelancers and contractors can position themselves as sought-after speakers for legitimate conferences.

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