Mar 21, 2023 - Technology

Women in CyberSecurity conference gets pushback over Nashville summit

Illustration of columns in the colors of the transgender pride flag.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

As the Tennessee state government continues to pass legislation targeting transgender and LGBTQ rights, members of the cybersecurity community are questioning a major industry conference's decision to host next year's event in Nashville.

Driving the news: The Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) nonprofit announced over the weekend it plans to host its 2024 summit in Nashville.

  • The announcement was met with immediate criticism on Twitter given that many see the nonprofit's mission as creating an inclusive environment for women-identifying people in the male-dominated cybersecurity industry.
  • "To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement. To say I'm infuriated wouldn't be sufficient," Alyssa Miller, chief information security officer at Epiq Global, said in a tweet. "Obviously that mission of inclusion was lost."
  • WiCyS executive director Lynn Dohm said in a tweet Sunday that the organization signed the contract for the 2024 event four years ago.

What they're saying: "WiCyS is 100% committed to the security and wellbeing of our members and we are considering all options to respond to this challenge," the organization said in a statement Monday.

The big picture: In recent years, several organizations have either moved their conferences or decided to skip major events in states pursuing anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans legislation.

  • Two scientific and research organizations moved their conferences away from Utah last year after lawmakers passed legislation banning most abortions and another bill barring trans girls from participating in girls' sports.

Zoom out: More than 100 pieces of legislation in state legislatures this year would ban aspects of gender-affirming medical care, per the ACLU.

Yes, but: Not all organizations can afford the costs associated with changing venues, and most venues schedule years in advance for large-scale gatherings like the WiCyS summit.

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