The massive cyber security conference RSA is facing criticism for having just one female keynote speaker this year. RSA organizers told USA Today that, overall, the conference expects that 20 percent of its speakers will be women, a number that they say reflects the overall representation of women in the security industry. “A diverse speaking program starts with increasing diversity within the technology sector, which needs to be addressed by the industry as a whole,” an RSA spokesperson said.
The only woman on the panel of 20 keynote speakers is Monica Lewinsky, who advocates to prevent cyber bullying. The other 19 keynote speakers and moderators, who will present during the four-day RSA Conference in San Francisco are men.
Lewinsky said on Twitter that she found out about the all-male lineup last week and told USA Today in a statement that she’s asked organizers to do better. “I’m disappointed by this oversight, but RSA has about six weeks until the conference, so I’m optimistic that the matter will be rectified by then,” she said.
This line-up has frustrated people in the cyber security field, with Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos taking to Twitter to criticize the conference organizers for leaving women out of RSA’s top speaking roles.
RSA Conference vice president and curator Sandra Toms said the line-up is not finalized and that more women could join the list of keynote speakers before the event begins. US Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, has been invited, for example, but isn’t yet confirmed to speak. Other invitations to women keynote speakers are still pending, Toms said. “We strive each year for a diverse speaking panel.”
This news comes at a time tech conferences continue to take heat for gender bias. In January, organizers of CES, a giant consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas, caught criticism for excluding women from their slate of speakers, too. In 2016 at Defcon, a major hacking conference in Las Vegas, women complained of a hostile atmosphere that left them feeling unwelcome.