Just after we took this picture an interesting thing happened. "You know, I've noticed there's actually a lot more women here this year," he told us.
"Oh really? That's cool," we said.
"Yeah, another thing I noticed — and I think this is an interesting observation — and I don't mean to sound sexist, is, the women here are really attractive."
We reminded him of the sign he had literally just written to "BE LESS SEXIST". We suggested he might be noticing that women at tech conferences feel pressure to dress more professionally than men (he was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans) due to biases in the industry, but he seemed insistent on trying to make a point that if there weren't sexism in tech, women at the conference wouldn't be so ... hot? It did not go well. We let him know it was not going well. He dug deeper.
"Yeah but like, when I'm walking around the streets of New York, I see a lot of attractive women, and—" he said.
At that point we cut him off to save him from saying anything worse. It was a startling reminder that while people attending these kinds of events may know how to appear decent in bullet points, many still have deeply, deeply fucked-up attitudes toward women, and are incapable of shame when told what they're saying is offensive.
Nearly every interaction we had with a man at the conference ended the same. He'd hand back our pad of paper and marker and he'd tell us: "Good luck, girls."