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A paucity of female speakers at a Dell-run cyber-security conference has prompted participants from Facebook and Alphabet to form their own breakaway gathering with a broader gender mix.

The RSA Conference came in for criticism after scheduling a solitary female keynote speaker for the high-profile event, which drew 43,000 attendees last year, prompting some cyber security professionals to organise an alternative one-day forum in San Francisco on 17 April, the day after RSA’s week-long gathering breaks up.

Of 22 speakers confirmed thus far a token female participant comes in the form of Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern seduced by former US president Bill Clinton.

Sandra Toms, curator and vice president at RSA Conference, has spoken out in defence of the meeting however, pointing out that a finalised list of speakers has yet to be revealed.

Annie Stepanovich of OUR Security Advocates, the breakaway grouping, was unmoved by this line of argument however, stating: “We need to be at least taking these first initial steps toward greater inclusion.”

Among those participating in the alternative conference are Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos, moved into action against a backdrop of increased awareness of equality issues sparked by the #MeToo social media movement