To make the event look diverse

How to diversity and inclusion: invent some diverse speakers to promote your conference and then on the day say they all have food poisoning.

After an event organizer, Eduards Sizovs, was accused of making up fake female speakers to attract high-profile speakers to an online developer conference called DevTernity, several of the event’s top-billed speakers promptly withdrew.

On Monday, Sizovs confirmed that the conference, DevTernity—which sold tickets for as much as $870 a pop and anticipated 1,300 attendees—was cancelled.

The controversy arose after Gergely Orosz, the author of a popular tech newsletter called Pragmatic Engineering, first posted the allegations on X on Friday. Orosz alleged that out of three women—Kristine Howard, Julia Krisina, and Anna Boyko—scheduled to speak at DevTernity, Krisina and Boyko were fake profiles created by the event organizers to make the event look diverse in order to “successfully attract some of the most heavy-hitter men speakers in tech.”

Which is so interesting because another way to make the event look “diverse” would be to invite some actual women. I wonder if he thought of that at all.

“The amount of hate and lynching I keep receiving is as if I would have scammed or killed someone,” Sizovs posted on X. “But I won’t defend myself because I don’t feel guilty. I did nothing terrible that I need to apologize for. The conference has always delivered on its promise. It’s an awesome, inclusive, event.”

That post has a community note—X’s fact-checking method—that says, “Sizovs has been shown creating fake female speaker profiles for his conferences. He is claiming one of them was a test/bug, but investigation uncovered he’s done this for multiple years with multiple fake speakers. This presented a fraudulent focus on diversity.”

And also underlined his determination to exclude women from speaker roles at his conferences. If you pretend you’ve invited some when you haven’t, that just makes it clear you don’t want to and don’t plan to. It underlined the fact that this is deliberate with malice aforethought exclusion of women.

Orosz alleged that DevTernity’s addition of Boyko to the lineup was “not a one-off.” He posted what he said is evidence from past years of more fake speakers that were advertised at both DevTernity and other events organized by Sizovs, and 404 Media also claims that a hugely popular female tech influencer Instagram account called Coding Unicorn may have been secretly managed by Sizovs.

According to 404 Media, Coding Unicorn bills itself as the “most popular coding account on Instagram.” It’s allegedly managed by a real woman named Julia Kirsina, but 404 Media found that IP logs, a YouTube video, social media posts, and other evidence seems to suggest Sizovs controls the account.

Perhaps most glaringly obvious, coders revealed to 404 Media that “some of Kirsina’s Instagram posts are word-for-word copies of Sizovs’ LinkedIn posts, sometimes published more than a year later.” In addition, “some of the images [Kirsina] posted on Instagram show computer monitors with code that show her logged in under Sizovs’ name.” But perhaps most striking is the fact that an administrator told 404 Media that both Sizovs’ and Kirsina’s accounts were banned “multiple times” by the coding forum for “sockpuppeting”—using a false identity to deceive others—in 2019 and 2020.

“At a minimum,” 404 Media concluded that Sizovs has been “heavily influencing” Coding Unicorn’s posts and seemingly had access to at least one of Kirsina’s accounts.

There are no good enough women. They’re all too stupid and too frivolous, so a guy has to fake them to tick the diversity boxes.

H/t Sackbut

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