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Could a Change In Wording Attract More Women To Infosec? ( 291

itwbennett writes: "Information security is an endeavor that is frequently described in terms of war," writes Lysa Myers. "But what would the gender balance of this industry be like if we used more terms from other disciplines?" Just 14 percent of U.S. federal government personnel in cybersecurity specialties are women, a number startlingly close to the 14.5 percent of active duty military members who are women (at least as of 2013). By comparison, women are well represented in other STEM fields: "As of 2011, women earn 60 percent of bachelor-level biology degrees. Women also earn between 40 and 50 percent of chemistry, mathematics and statistics, and Earth sciences undergraduate degrees," writes Myers. Why the difference? Myers points to a comment from someone who taught a GenCyber camp for girls: "He found that one effective way to get girls to feel passionate about security was to create an emotional connection with the subject: e.g. the shock and distress of seeing your drone hacked or your password exposed," writes Myers.
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Could a Change In Wording Attract More Women To Infosec?

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  • Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Elledan ( 582730 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:50PM (#50950641) Homepage
    As a (female) senior developer my only response to the summary was a stunned 'WTH'. Now I'm certain this is a The Onion article... *checks*
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by neoritter ( 3021561 )

      Welcome to Poe's law.

      • My guess: "As you get older, news is more and more likely to make you gag."

        • Hmm, maybe, but I'm not that old.

          • Gather around, kids, and hear the story about the time, before 1987, when News actually meant something special...

            Fairness Doctrine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

            Though even when it was around, the News did not seem a whole lot different. There was still censorship and bias in the choice of which stories to run, and the editors decided how to frame the "multiple perspectives" on a single story. Which is kind of incredible, if you think about it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by kuzb ( 724081 )

      Welcome to the brave new world, where making everything girl friendly is the only acceptable answer. Since women apparently do not want to join willingly we have to ramp up the propaganda machine to fix those percentages!

      • Re:Speechless (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:25PM (#50950945) Journal

        Actually, making things one way or another because of some "slight" to one group or another is pretty damn insulting. Especially if there is no slight intended.

        Lets just face it, boys and girls are different, lets quit trying to make them the same.

        • Actually the bulk of the article as about attracting people into InfoSec careers. As stated neither boy or girls were aware of it coming out of high school as possible career choices. Funny how you find things out when you read.
          • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Informative)

            by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @06:18PM (#50951343) Homepage Journal

            I wish the editors would edit these summaries. The story is interesting but the summary is flamebait. Someone trying to undermine efforts to get more diversity in tech on ideological grounds, and twisting articles to suit their views on the (correct) assumption that most people don't read them.

          • Information security is not a career. It's a buzzword for another management level over systems, database and network admins. If you are a good admin, you know about the prevalent threats and mitigate them, that is your job.

            Typically an infosec person is someone who you report to in addition to your boss that concentrates on beating some type of C-level report regardless of the underlying facts. Oh your PHP is out of date, fix that regardless of the fact that the security patches are back ported or no issue

          • by gweihir ( 88907 )

            That may be a really, really bad idea. The absolutely last thing we need is even more incompetent InfoSec people. InfoSec people need to be competent to have any worth. From personal experience, that needs something like 5-10 years on top of a university master's with security focus and a lot of personal interest in the subject.

      • by Phil-14 ( 1277 )

        I thought InfoSec was from 1984, not Brave New World?

      • Maybe women are stupid and need to be conned into doing something they don't really find interesting.

        Or maybe not.

    • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:14PM (#50950845) Homepage Journal

      Eh, as a male dev who ran 3000 miles away from the defense-industrial complex surrounding the Washington DC partly because of the terminology (though the actual "warfighters" I worked with were the most remarkable people with awesome life stories), I have to admit that just about all of our security officers I've reported to over the decades were women. To the point where I believed the ISSO was the new pigeonhole to stash any and (and almost every) female employee.

      My soviet-raised wife always laughs at all these equality efforts and doublespeak here. Both her grandparents were naval engineers (they met in University where degree programs were assigned to students by lottery to fill military quotas for WWII). Her great-grandmother had a doctorate back when women in the West were still being eclipsed and ignored by their male counterparts. Maybe someday the pendulum in the US will swing far enough that we'll be where the Russians were in the 80s with regards to gender balance in the workplace.

    • WE GET IT!!!!

      seriously what is the obsession with this stuff today??? its getting obnoxious
    • As a (female) senior developer my only response to the summary was a stunned 'WTH'.

      I actually had a similar reaction to it; it came off as insulting to women, like they can't be appealed to intellectually, only emotionally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )

      Well, apparently now we have to appeal to the emotional side of women, while hiding out Star Wars posters, self castrating with a USB stick, and ensure that all metaphors involve fluffy bunnies and hair products.

      Honestly, I've known a fair few women in tech ... none of them had to deal with this "no girls allowed crap", none of them hated Star Wars, or otherwise needed to be coddled due to their gender.

      I don't know if this is a generational thing which happened recently, or if every attempt to lure women in

      • I've known a couple of guys with sensitive egos. And from what I've seen, women have nothing on a whiny nerd who has had his feelings hurt. Those guys just won't let it go.

        APK is a prime example of this.

    • Were you always female though? IT has a lot of transgender folk in the field.

      Which, I fully support, but there is a remote possibility that the majority of ciswomen are just not that interested.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      What? You mean you DON'T want everything in your live to be pink and fluffy and frilly and sweet and cudly and girly all the f**king time?

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        The first UNIX sysadmin of the student pool I did run in at university was a bit like that. She was also competent and helpful, so nobody of the (almost completely male) students had a problem with that. And that is just the thing: I know quite a few female CS and EE types and none of them had any serious issues with gender discrimination. They universally had a dim view of most other female students though as them being "lazy" and unwilling to get their hands dirty and such. If you want some people with a

    • The InfoSec industry has a terrible reputation. It will take more then a terminology change, but this *might* be a good first step towards making the industry more attractive. I think /. ers living in their mother's basements probably rank higher in the social pecking order.
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:51PM (#50950643)
    I'm the furthest thing from an SJW but could this be any more insulting toward women?
    • by neoritter ( 3021561 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:04PM (#50950761)

      An SJW would actually promote this tactic. There was an article from CNNMoney a year ago that honestly said that we'd have more women going for IT jobs if we changed the wording of the job description. For instance use cooperative instead of competitive. Or don't use hard work in the description.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:16PM (#50950871)

        Something I've noticed is that the SJW diversity push is effectively pushing skilled women (and skilled minorities, for that matter) OUT of tech.

        Partly it's because it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy that "women don't do tech." Where as before a technically inclined woman would do the same things that technically inclined men do, now they've been taught by SJWs that they "aren't welcome in tech" no matter what they experience. So they just don't enter because they've been told again and again that they're not welcome, without realizing that the people telling them that don't even work in tech in the first place.

        It also means that where before, people knew a woman in tech was there because she had earned the job, now you have to wonder if she's a "diversity hire" who's there not because she was the best for the job but because she allowed the company to check off "employs women" on the SJW score-card.

        I've seen women actively leave where I work not because they didn't enjoy the job but because my employer has started doing this whole "encourage women in STEM" thing and all they've really accomplished is crapping all over the accomplishments of the women who work there. They're no longer "the best in the field" they're now "the best women we could find." Turns out being told "you're only here 'cause you're a woman" is really demoralizing to technically skilled women.

        And so now, they're leaving the field entirely, giving SJWs even more to whine about.

        • giving SJWs even more to whine about

          I know you didn't mean it in quite this way, but ... yeah.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gweihir ( 88907 )

          While none of the female CS types I know have let themselves be pushed out by this, quite a few complain, and rightfully so. This is insulting to anybody that has worked hard to be good at things. In addition, the women that were hired because of gender often seem to be incompetent, disrupt the workplace, and generally make a lot of work for others, often the competent women.

          Really, STEM is a "every competent sentient life-form welcome" club. There is NOTHING that should be done to push people in that field

      • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @02:35AM (#50953343) Homepage

        are rather sexist and are so busy fighting against "masculinism" that they don't notice they're reifying the very gendered category system that feminists once, at the beginning, set out to make obsolete. Once again, war, labor, objectivity and striving are seen increasingly as being for men, while flowers, cooperation, peace, and "locality" (a thin veneer over domesticity) are the supposedly more desirable feminine (i.e. not so masculine) traits that we ought to promote.

        It's gone gone from "women should be free to leave the kitchen and join any action they want" to "if we can move the Oval Office and the battlefield into the kitchen, we can have women present in both places as they cook!"

    • ...You have to go out to meet hot women. You can't count on hiring them.

      • Unfortunately, you shouldn't try to date the ones you hire, that tends to lead to sexual harassment lawsuits, and losing your are much better meeting them on Geek2Geek :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
      Like you, I am a guy, but I agree - this is insulting to women.

      It's kind of like saying, "You know, those poor, oversensitive women. The problem isn't harassment, unfair pay, or things like that. It's just that we are using the wrong words."

      You want to hire more women? Pay them the same as guys and crush any attempt to harass them with an iron first.

    • Don't feed the News Troll. They want your painties in a twist.

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:23PM (#50950929) Journal

      I find the whole concept of Penis-and-Vagina Accounting applied to software development insulting toward women. The whole attraction of geeky fields (at least to me) is that they're about your mind, not your body. Do you have the geek mindset? Bright and intellectually curious and fearless? Welcome about. Reducing that to "but how many penis and how many vaginas" soils the field. That aspect shouldn't be important, and focusing on some unimportant aspect of biology is certainly insulting: it's reducing people to their junk.

    • I'm the furthest thing from an SJW but could this be any more insulting toward women?

      Only if you...let's see now..introduced shoe metaphors?

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:51PM (#50950647)

    Get rid of the H1B's / have maternity leave where they can't fire you for using it.

    • by leonbev ( 111395 )

      Those will never happen, as those suggestions cost the company money.

      Besides, most companies like the status quo and are happy for their female employees to work in Marketing or Sales (where a pretty face can help to get sales) instead of Engineering. This article is more of a bad PR stunt than anything else.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:51PM (#50950659) Journal

    ..."no" especially applies here, since wording, subtlety, and semantics are a rather big pillar of infosec, for frig sakes. If you get butthurt in the adverts, then how do you expect to once you're in it?

    PS: 14% and 14.5% aren't far enough off to get anyone's panties in a bunch (yes, pun intended).

  • Wording, really?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:52PM (#50950671)

    A sensitive bunch, to be sure. Perhaps, if a group isn't interested in a subject, just maybe you shouldn't try to con them into it? There's nothing wrong with someone being disinterested in something.

    • by Mr.CRC ( 2330444 )
      There is something very much wrong with it, if it is an individual's choice. We'll have none of that!
  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <> on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:53PM (#50950679)

    "We could attract more women to infosec if we fool them into thinking it's not really infosec." Guys, Dice, get it through your thick skulls: the ladies just aren't into you. Accept their decision and move on.

  • "Your password was cracked! /quote

    ramifications: because terrorists now have your password, your baby is now on fire!

    What a dumb summary and an even dumber premise.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Bad physical security, poor password security

      Ramifications: Because terrorists were able to steal the password to your hibernation pods, they were able to steal your baby and kill your spouse. Now, because of that, you need to go on a rip roaring rampage of revenge through a post-apocalyptic wasteland to get your baby back.

  • Information security is an endeavor that is frequently described in terms of war

    And no sane person likes war ... right?

    The point is that to make Infosec more attractive to normal, sane, people the intent should be changed from one of confrontation and dominance to one that coveys an intent to make the world better, more secure, safer, and protected from the crazies out there.

    If that sounds a lot like the (female dominated) caring professions, then so be it. But if you really believe that Infosec is there as part of a "war" then carry on as you were ...

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )


      "More secure,safer,and protected from the crazies" sounds more like being a police officer than being in one of the "caring professions".

    • Except that InfoSec kinda is warfare. Sure, it's not a shooting war, but it's no less violent, aggressive, and brutal. The phrase 'If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen' comes to mind. Because if you try and sugar-coat InfoSec, you'll end up with a lot of people entering the field that feel as if they got the bad end of a deal and hate their job.
  • Who would have thought those silly women could be fooled by changing of wording? While I don't care for some of the "women in STEM" shenanigans going on lately, this just strikes me as insulting to women.
  • Because like, OMG, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CQDX ( 2720013 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:03PM (#50950751)

    all women coders are like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde and won't take a job unless you feminize it. What an insult.

  • A better question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:07PM (#50950801)

    Could a change in wording repel the parasites trying to turn software development into a political football ?

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:16PM (#50950875) Journal

    "As of 2011, women earn 60 percent of bachelor-level biology degrees. Women also earn between 40 and 50 percent of chemistry, mathematics and statistics, and Earth sciences undergraduate degrees"

    So what did they do to get women involved with the sciences.... did they change the lingo to better suit women?

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:21PM (#50950909)

      More to the point, what are they doing to fix this terrible gender imbalance and attract more men into Biology degrees?

    • by Octorian ( 14086 )

      No. They specifically cited the only fields of science where women have significant representation, while ignoring all the other fields where they're an extreme minority.

      • Really: "Women are well represented in the science and mathematics areas of STEM, but not in technology and engineering. "
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      What? Your university didn't rename
      Earth Sciences to "Where are the Kittens at?" and Biology to "Adorable Kitten Studies"?

    • It's called recruiting. A large part of it is letting people know these fields and careers exist. The other part is encouraging them. What a lot of people fail to understand is that several generations of women were not encouraged to go to college and have a career. That started to change in the '60s and '70s. Even today you have people against women serving in combat. So you have women that want to serve in combat and people actively preventing them.

      So yes, gender bias does exist, even today.
      • So how are they recruiting differently for IT vs sciences? Did they use a more appealing language for chemistry or mathematics- probably not. So you are agreeing that the premise of the OP is incorrect?

  • when they also show an even slight concern about the much greater imbalance of 90-95% females in most nursing degree programs, and a similar problem in teaching.

    • This just in, women prefer to work with people and be liked by them instead of going into it security, be seen as the company gestapo and avoided by every coworker...

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        No you don't get it. Women are _always_ innocent victims of everything, so just because there isnt exact numbers of both genders in infosec, it MUST be something wrong with the whole field rather than anything to do with womens actual freedom of choice.
        Obviously this is all just a giant plot and the fault of every male on the planet, to keep all women opressed and out of the "old boys club" that is infosec, where we all sit about in big leather chairs, drink brandy and smoke fat cigars all the time.

  • Feminism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CauseBy ( 3029989 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:30PM (#50950977)

    If we are choosing between "let women decide what they want" and "try to manipulate women into doing what you think they should do", then I guess I would have to say that only the first option is consistent with human dignity.

    I'm a programmer on a team of about ten, all men. We were at lunch one day talking about it and my boss said he went way out of his way to try to hire women. He said he proactively sent invitations to CS programs soliciting women, sent invitations to women on LinkedIn, and as a rule he would interview any woman who applied, regardless of the resume (is that gender equality? whatever).

    He got zero female applicants. Zero. We have women at the company, we have women doing programming, but none doing the kind of programming that my team does. My best guess, informed by personal experience, is that women are just a lot less likely to want to do this work. There might be more than zero, but the rate is less than 1/10th of the rate for men, which on a team this size means there are zero women.

  • He found that one effective way to get girls to feel passionate about security was to create an emotional connection with the subject: e.g. the shock and distress of seeing your drone hacked or your password exposed

    Right -- the old 'shock and awww' approach. I guess it's true -- an effective way to induce passion (an emotion) in humans is to, you know, describe things using emotionally-laden descriptions. Protip -- some parents use a variation of this when telling a child to "Use your words."

  • The massive implication here is that women can't decide their own career for themselves and are dumb enough to choose a whole career path just because of some emotional trigger words.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @05:52PM (#50951171)

    Are you aware what you're saying there? You're saying that women are scared away from a field because of how it is described. They are according to this piece scared of words. Are you fucking serious? Can you get any more condescending and belittling?

    I am in it security. And as far as I can tell it's the reputation the field has that is to blame for the gender gap, and how itsecs are treated by their coworkers. We don't tend to be the most social of people. On one hand because that's basically the reputation that we have (it's self perpetuating, on one hand we have that rep, on the other hand people who aren't too fond of too much human interaction choose the field, further reinforcing that stereotype), on the other hand itsec is usually as well liked as controlling. People feel uncomfortable talking to us. Because we might hear something that makes us go "Whhaaaaaat did you say?"

    Most women probably just don't want to be outcasts.

    • You're saying that women are scared away from a field because of how it is described. They are according to this piece scared of words. Are you fucking serious?

      Of all the things to pick on, you choose the one sane thing? Everyone is scared away from various fields because of how it's described. I didn't join the Army because the way it's described is: "carry a gun while people shoot at you". That scared me away from that field.

      Now, you probably meant the specifics about how it was described, but...

  • If Mr. Editor here had two neurons to rub together, he would actually read the comments and see how fewer and fewer people are supporting him. He's done so much damage towards this cause, I wonder if that's what he intended from the beginning? Having special advantages for either gender was always sexist, I thought, but this is worse than even that.
  • Could we attract more Yorkshire people by changing the name of everything to "whippet" or "Tetley's"?

  • ...who gives a fuck?

  • with getting women to do what they don't want to do?

    Namely work in STEM fields.

    • I think it's because they know we read and comment on the things that piss us off just as much, or more than content that is actually interesting. Any half-ass SJW opinion piece is bound to get 300 comments in no time. Congratulations Dice, you annoyed most of your female readership with your patronizing nonsense.

  • Why not just tell them they'll get to read other people's gossip without them knowing?!

  • How about we try and get more men in to biology?

  • The thing is, this is just the same with all of CompSci, coding, etc. Women generally look more carefully at the types of careers and working environments they can have afterwards. Now, working conditions, career options and compensation for Coders, Software Engineers, etc. generally suck badly these days. It is no surprise that women with the talent and skills more often than not avoid going into this field. Incidentally, this is something a lot of men also do, but to a lesser degree.

    The thing is, we have

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.