back to article A woman in IT is like a dog who speaks: Rare. A woman in IT security?

Women are shunning cyber security even more than they shun the rest of IT, according to a survey. Of the 2,500 people who took cyber security training at QA in 2012, just 6.2 per cent were women. The number of women choosing to take up security courses also declined overall by 19.5 per cent between 2011 and 2012, while the …

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Headmaster

footnote...

and of course the Blackadder dialogue was inspired by the original Johnson quote:

"Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

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Coat

Re: footnote...

Sir, a modern hack who is as eloquent as his forebears........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: footnote...

Yep - and of course the journo knew that, but went ahead hoping to get a rise, particularly from people who's idea of humor might not be confined to detailed memory of quotes from 30 year old shows.

Ha. Ha. Ha. A long career in IT has taught me that most men don't indulge in that kind of juvenile 'humour', and that the ones who do are rarely worth listening to. It's also taught me to be a bit sad about the ones who didn't learn that lesson, who've gone on to other things.

Another woman in IT.

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Meh

Re: footnote...

'making a reference to' != 'confined to'

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@Mrs.AC

How is Ben Elton's line any more or less "juvenile" than Dr.Johnson's?

I agree, you must be a bit sad

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Joke

Ma ütlen, ma ütlen, ma ütlen ...

...mul ei ole nina.

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Thumb Up

Re: footnote...

"Sir, a modern hack who is as eloquent as his forebears........"

Behold!

A new internet meme is born.

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Happy

Re: Ma ütlen, ma ütlen, ma ütlen ...

Kas tõesti?

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Bronze badge

Re: footnote...

Ignoring an idiot isn't being passive aggressive, Eadon. It's simply not arguing with an idiot, only to be dragged down to their level and being defeated by their superior experience in idiocy.

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Re: Women + IT

Can't help but agree with this. I remember watching a show a while back about the male / female brain. I'm not talking about male as in the brain a man has, but male as in a thinking type more commen to men.

They took men and women from two distinctly male / female professions and gave them a series of tests. Those in traditionally male professions did better on the active / doing tests (such as building an ikea cupboard, they didn't even need the instructions) whereas the female brain type failed miserably at this test (they didn't even get the frame built by the time the other team finished, and then they gave up)

Women aren't in IT because the majority of womens brains aren't wired right for it, the same way there are fewer empathetic men in nursing etc. We can't change the industry to attract more women because there aren't that many more women to attract. A woman in IT is like a male hairdresser. There really aren't that many of them, but the ones who are there are damn good at what they do.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/add_user.shtml

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Re: Women + IT

You didn't get some cack-handed jibe at Microsoft into that particular bullet from the 1950s. Try harder.

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FAIL

Re: Women + IT

Sir,

I refute your argument with my lengthy career in IT.

A lady.

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Devil

Re: Women + IT

You will now read Eadon's latest in the voice of ... Gaius Baltar.

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Facepalm

Re: Women + IT

What's to refute? They said that there are less Women because in general they think in different patterns to men, as in the comparison to men in the caring profession.

At no point did I see them state there are no Women in IT at all ever and neither did I see them state there shouldn't be. All I see is them making a statement that in his opinion explains the lack of a higher percentage of Women in IT.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Women + IT

And another effect of testosterone is the inability to see beyond stereotypes, Eadon. I've certainly met both men and women with a wide range of social and toy-playing abilities.

But, if unbiased studies back up your prejudices, then we certainly need more women in IT security. One of the persistent failings of IT security is in persuading users/developers/managers to make smart security decisions. An ability to chat, care and socialise would be a massive advantage.

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Facepalm

Re: Women + IT

Remind me not to attempt humour in these forums.

Johnson's refutation of Bishop Berkeley

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Trollface

Re: Women + IT

Pssst don't let all those feminist/sex egalitarian people entrenched on western governments know about this, the reality of things could put and end to their free gravy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

apparently men arn't capable of chattting, caring or socialising?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

Nothing to do with that.

Disclaimer : I used to be a security person in my "previous lives" ~ 15 years ago in the aftermath of Aleph's "Smashing the stack for fun and profit". Thankfully, I no longer have to do that job. By the way - in those days it was actually more civilized than now.

To the question in hand: A large portion of the security industry is not just a testosterone fueled ghetto. It is teenage pimple faced testosterone fueled ghetto. People who are yet to grow up, people who have failed to grow up, "BUGTRAQ Gadflies" trolling for a job in a security consultancy by showing how good it is to pull other people's pants down in public, people with social adaptation problems who will never grow up, etc - you name it. Throw into the mix the occasional professional pimp from Eastern Europe or ex-USSR who is looking for bits and pieces to commercialize for criminal usage.

No sane woman I know would go through the 2-3 years of such social environment just to have a job. Do we like it or not women tend to be better socially adapted (part of our simian ancestral genetics - just watch a chimp tribe in an Attenborough movie) and become better socially adapted earlier than men. This leaves only late "switchers" which move into security after having a career in some other part of IT as candidates.

Nothing surprising in these stats and they are not likely to change any time soon.

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Flame

Re: Women + IT

Amusing.

I build IKEA things without instructions. Well. I glance at them briefly to check which way round things go. I built my own bed this year, on my own, in about one hour. (from packages being delivered to me lying down on it). (and because English doesn't allow for gender to be expressed grammatically, hi, I'm a woman, and I work in IT)

I find this gender-discrimination fascinating and insulting.

"Women aren't in IT because their brains aren't wired for it". I'm sorry, what?

If someone walks up to me and says "You can't even build IKEA furniture, you're a woman, your brain doesn't work that way", why do I feel the need to a) punch them in the face and b) demonstrate they're prejudiced fools, by doing exactly what they say I cannot do? Am I avenging womankind? No. Thing is, I believe there are incompetent clumsy examples in both genders. I've met plenty of them. I'm not sure you do.

I appreciate that men have more muscle and women wider hips, we're built that way. But if you are one of those people who will raise his daughter to think she cannot drive because she's a woman, buddy, she'll resent you for LIFE for making her think she can't ever be as good as someone with a penis. Is that what you want?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

Unbiasd studies. There was one linkied in the second post, but how about a few more.

http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v28/n8/full/1300200a.html

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/030645309190018O

There are plenty more out there too which indicate that those with a higher testosterone level are better at certain tasks than those with higher estrogen levels, and vica versa.

Furthermore to the person who commented about how they need more women in IT security because men fail at communicating, no they don't. IT security are the folks who make the security protocols, they need more women in sales in order to push these things.

But again when you're trying to sell security to a big business psychologically people are more inclined to take security information from a guy than a girl, which means what they actually need is a larger number of men with higher than average estrogen levels working in sales for security.

Women would probably be more suited to a slightly more creative role in computing, such as games or the web.

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Re: Women + IT

Eurydice, let me reword what I'm saying since you seem to be misunderstanding. I'm not saying all women are inept at building furniture or other such traditional 'male' tasks. What I am saying is that studies, scientific studies have documented a different set of thought patterns among men and women based on estrogen and testosterone concentrations during the pre-birth period in the womb. And to a lesser extent the levels after that period.

Those with highest testosterone concentrations are generally better at tasks which involve logical thinking and spacial awareness, while those who have higher estrogen concentrations tend to be better at tasks involving memory and attention to detail etc.

These have been classified as a male mindset and a female mindset based upon the estrogen and testosterone levels.

There are women with ''male' minds, and men with 'female' minds.

I know numerous men who have female minds, and I know numerous women with male minds. This is not saying that women can't put together a piece of ikea furniture, it's saying that those with a female wired brain are generally less adept at doing so than those with a 'male' wired brain.

It is not a swipe at women, or at men, merely the way that our brains are genetically wired from conception.

Here's a second, more accurate link to do with that BBC program I mentioned before.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/sexsecrets/programmes.shtml

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

That's Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. I don't know, perhaps you get promoted a rank when you die, like Army officers do when they retire.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was a genius. The problem seems to be that women need to be geniuses or near it to get promoted in IT.

I think it is less about overall personality type than about self promotion, and the negative culture of many IT departments. Women do very well in the law, and that is an occupation very similar to IT.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

Whoa! No flames..what he's trying to say is that, as a general point, it's true that the proportion of women suited to IT is lower than the proportion of men, hence the relative proportions of sexes in the profession. No one's telling you or anyone's daughter that they "can't" do something because of their sex, but that sexism is not to blame for the relative proportions in this workplace.

My experience is that this is true. But I married a software tester :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

My daughter is a structural engineer, commonly supposed to be a very male dominated occupation. During her time at university and while working for a consultancy she got nothing but support. She even got a very positive reaction in Japan. (She's still in the business...and has children). Of course she has come across builders who look at her as if she's a Martian, but male engineers also have trouble with builders who resent people with lots of letters after their names, who tell them the hole has to be dug this way and not that way.

The strange thing is that if you manage to bring up kids who avoid the conditioning, people just kind of accept it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

My experience with women as engineers and engineering managers is that they are usually exceptional, or absolutely awful. The last "awful" one I had was promoted way past her capability...mainly because she was a female :-(

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

Women aren't in IT because the majority of womens brains aren't wired right for it, the same way there are fewer empathetic men in nursing etc

I'm not convinced you need a specific set of wiring. The women in IT and security I have had the pleasure to work with were both competent and good to work with. One of them now actually heads up a bank security division, and IMHO deservedly so. I think it has less to do with their wiring as with the wiring of the people around them..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

Ah the peter principle. Or is it the patricia principle in this case.

It may not have been that she was female so much that got her the job, but the fact that most women I know are far more persistant.

Guys I know who've asked for raises / job advancement have generally stopped at the first hurdle. "Can I have a pay rise", "no", "Okay, i'll try again next quarter"

Women on the other hand.

"Can I have a pay rise?" "No" "okay then, can I have my job title elevated since I'm doing X Y and Z when I'm only contracted for X" "No" "Okay then, can I at least have my internal level elevated on the system so that I can do X Y and Z more effectively without having to constantly bother bob over there" "Okay sure"

The next day

"Have you managed to elevate me on the system yet?" "No I'm just doing it now *had totally forgotten* Hmm, to elevate you on the system I'm going to need to up yoru job title... Done... Oh that's automatically given you a pay rise too uhm..." "Thanks"

Might not happen quite so quickly, but the women I know are far more persistant.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

How about we put the 'wiring' arguement in this sense.

During the prenatal period you're exposed to hormones in the womb that determine gender.

Testosterone leads you to the far right end of the scale, estrogen to the far left. Of course some men are exposed to more estrogen, and some women more testosterone leading to slightly less of an extreme on the brain scale.

As you are raised the wiring is modified and adapts to what your'e doing. People tend to do what they're good at. That means the majority of men will do 'man work' which results in further expansion into the far right side of the pool, while a lot of young girls are raised with the 'woman jobs' in mind, homemaker, hairdresser etc. Lets face it a lot of little girls still want to be disney princesses.

Then you have a few guys who somehow get interested in the more 'woman job' type areas. their brains will be rewired to pull them to the left, highly unlikely they'll ever get as far left as girly women, but they may go further to the left than the more masculine women (masculane as in interests, not as in butch)

Likewise women may get interested in masculine jobs over feminine jobs.

So as a visual example of mind types

A: Higher estrogen levels low testosterone, female activities

B: Higher estrogetn levels, higher testosterone, female activities OR Higher estrogen levels, lower testosterone and male activities

C. Higher estrogen levels, higher testostergone, male activities OR lower estrogen levels, higher testosterone and female activities.

D Lower estrogen, higher testosterone, male activities.

A----------------B------------C-------------------D

A being what's classed as the pure female mind. D the pure Male Mind.

I'd hazard a guess that most men fall into C, while most women into B these days. (closer to a central brain type) while outliers are in A and D, those outliers being the girly girl ditz, and the muscle bound moron.

As a final not to this, I imagine in the past when women were expected to do women work only and nothing male, and men male work and nothing female there were far more women in the AB range with almost none in the CD range. And the same for men, none in the AB range, while most were in the CD range.

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Facepalm

Re: Women + IT

I withdraw my Ad Hom attack with apologies... by accusing me of bitchiness you have proved your lack of stereotyping.

Saying, "There's no point in aiming for equality" is unhelpful because it ignores the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of result. If gender stereotyping is discouraging women from entering IT, or men from entering nursing, that is prejudice that should be addressed. The only relevant measure is aptitude for the job.

A.C. 10:04 Sales isn't the point, its training. So many attacks have a social engineering component that could be defeated by a user with a clue.

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Re: Women + IT

@Admiral Grace Hopper

Don't give up on the attempts at humour, just remember the crowd your playing to. Keep it puerile and derogatory and you'll earn many an upvote!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

maybe there's no more reason then most woman don't want to be in IT, and of those who do most don't want to do Security. But then not many work in sys admin or support or networks most I've met are in project, business analysis, development and, testing. Not all of course, but most. Maybe that's the reason, Woman are under represented in the main routes into security? Why's that? Because they're smart enough to see OS and tin as a graveyard of ambition? Who knows.

I've worked with a half dozen security people, all male, and none matching the unpleasant descriptions provided here. They tend to business orientated and capable to talk at all levels of the business as well as having a broad knowledge base of general IT and business knowledge as well as indepth security knowledge.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

"Women aren't in IT because their brains aren't wired for it". I'm sorry, what?

I'm surprised no-one has told you to learn your lesson, Love Orpheus.

Actually, I agree with you, some women are born that way. It's determined during foetal development as rightly pointed out this very day. Girls become tomboys if subjected to high testosterone in the womb.

Women don't make it, but as there are female engineers out there, we must also conclude that there must be a sizable amount of mums, ingesting a shot of testosterone with their folic acid supplement. It's probably responsible for autism too.

All we need to do, is find where some women get their daily 5ml of testosterone from, and allow them to have it, if they're carrying girls, and stop them swallowing it, if they're carrying boys.

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Re: Women + IT

Yes, the downvoters must be those who cannot distinguish equality from worthiness.

Men and women will never be equal, physically impossible. But they should be equally valued.

Which in turn is, with this worlds attitude, impossible to achieve. In a world that is built on competition and greed, if for no other reason which there probably exists many of, it turns down to the simple fact that a woman is the one carrying a child, and put's her out of the competition for power in the society.

To put it straight, it's our values that are distorted, and the cure is not to make all of us to mental hermaphrodites but to adjust our values. Unfortunately we find a lot of lobbyist that prefer to make us to equal, in other words hermaphrodites. Rather than acknowledge the differences and value them for what they are.

That means letting a woman be a woman in any field she chooses to be active in, whether it's in a male dominant field or not. And allowing men to be men in any field they choose whether it's male dominant or not. But let each field be as it want's to be, allow the natural selection to work it's work. Things has changed, some male dominant work fields are now dominated by females. Those changes do come by time.

The interesting part would be to see if a society could adjust it's values in the right direction, would this by nature equalize it self?

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Re: Women + IT

"A woman in IT is like a male hairdresser. There really aren't that many of them, but the ones who are there are damn good at what they do."

I disagree with this generalization. I've worked with a lot of women in IT, and they were just as competent as their male counterparts; which is to say, not at all.

Presumably there must be a female IT employee out there that CAN do the work for which she is hired, I just have never met her.

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Re: Women + IT

My bias is that I do think that a woman interested in IT security is actually better wired for it. The question is about interest not ability. If our interests are some what controlled by testosterone/ estrogens, maybe it is for a reason or not. But there are certainly reasons to why these fields look as they do.

As i posted earlier, our society's values puts the female gender in a difficult spot to compete with men. But I do think that many fields have been concurred by females, that used to be male dominant. And to day we see different fields with different demography. That was partly true earlier to, but then females did not work outside home, so there was no competition. But also then the values where distorted just as they are today but in a slightly different way.

As I pointed out, it would be interesting to see the effects if a society would be able to adjust their values so that each gender has the same value, while not trying to make the equal because they aren't. Would then these differences we see in different fields by nature equalize them selves, or would there still be male and female dominant fields.

I do think, we would see more fields less polarized, but I at the same time think there would be polarized fields. And I see nothing wrong in that. The only wrong I see is the values we humans have and how we compete against each other. But that is how every society is built up, by competition, which ultimately means someone will fall.

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Alert

Re: Women + IT

holy crap !!! when will we ever hear the end of these useless arguments !!!

MEN and WOMEN are DIFFERENT !!! FULL STOP.

In this modern age, there is NOTHING to stop women going into ANY job and same for men. They are accepted in all areas and in developed countries, treated equally now in terms of pay etc.

Yes, there are some instances of discrimination ( being of the human race, this will always be the case, not just in employment)

The fact is though, that due to differences in men and women, the percentages in various sectors will always vary.

Whats next? Stories that only 0.03% of women have a beard. 0% of men give birth. More should be done to balance this injustice.

Why is there such a drive to Shoe-horn genders into industries?

Why not just let the genders of the species pick what they want to do and let it go.

Now all repeat this after me " We are all individuals....."

** before i am slated, i am all for equality, I just consider myself realistic enough to know man!=woman **

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Re: Women + IT

In fact SAP had recently a job vacation out for autistic's, most of all they wanted people with Asperger syndrome.

Why you ask? Because it turns out that they are exceptionally good at IT compared to the average in that sector. But it's at the same time a disability in other areas.

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Re: Women + IT

I agree in the principals hes pointing out, but not in that females are less suitable for IT security. In fact I do think the opposite. Maybe the best solution would be a female bossing some autistic engineers. One that can handle the big picture and what is needed, and the rest actually knowing how it should be built to meet the requirements set.

The problem is that those who are good at the here so called logical part and can tear out anything into bits and pieces, they rarely can see any thing else, and loose out what actually needs to be done. They can polish a peace they worked at to perfection, but cannot connect the piece to anything else because everything else around them has not been polished to same perfectness.

Just to polarize the differences.

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Re: Women + IT

Eadon, the thing this doesn't explain is why there are now so many fewer women in technical side of IT than there used to be. I've been involved in the business for 30 or so years. 20 years back you'd find no shortage of women working in the kernel labs of major Unix vendors out in the US. You'd find them working in high end technical support roles here in the UK. Now they're like hens teeth, and most of the ones you find have been there for 15plus years.

Not all countries are the same. Teach a Unix internals class in Spain and you'll get 25->50% women in the classroom.

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Mushroom

Re: Women + IT

Why do I feel like punching someone who pulls "you an't expect me to know computers/how to this I'm a woman/girl/old/whatever the fuck" crap?

Just say your shit at it/have no intrest in it.

Are gender roles purely a social construct? Probably not. Is it at all possable that there maybe a gender based bias for/against certain intrests? or it is just a holdover from needing to protect breeding age females from a hostile enviroment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Women + IT

@Wowfood

Might I suggest that, rather than refer to male and female, you refer to masculine and feminine. Both imply gender but the latter is 'softer' and considered less provocative.

So the masculine mind set is better at logical thinking and spacial awareness, and that masculine mind sets are so named as they are more commonly found amongst males where a feminine mind sets are focused on memory and detail and are more commonly found in females.

However, I do disagree with your assertion that our brains are genetically wired from conception. Medical science has found that the brain can re-wire itself, in particular to repair damaged sections, and you can equally train people to adjust how they think and so promote a different aptitude. The effort involved, of cause, is greater where there is no initial aptitude and the result is less likely to be optimum, but that does not preclude cross- or re- training producing decent skill sets. (Yes, I am very much aware, and am an example of how, a logical mind can be trained to be creative by approaching the subject differently. I am equally aware of how someone who had no aptitude at all in music suddenly exhibited advanced musical talent after a stroke. Equally, I am aware of people who have been forced to learn skills they held no interest in nor aptitude for, yet they still emerged sufficiently qualified to be able to hold down a job in said field).

Rather, I would say that we are predisposed towards certain skill sets from birth, but our environment and upbringing has as much a part in how our minds develop as the incident of our conception. Look at our infant and junior schools and we have far better examples of children being shaped from an early age for their roles in latter years. Girls being encouraged to play with dolls, boys being encouraged to play football, for instance. This then enforces the masculine/feminine mindsets based on gender rather than allowing each to develop naturally. This is cultural and somewhat entrenched through history and as such is somewhat difficult to break. You and I were subjected to it to an extent, but the necessities of breaking such strong gender division during the second world war (women working as car mechanics being one example - even our current monarch was trained as such!) has meant that we are not as firmly indoctrinated as we might have been and so we now have the opportunity to break free of such constraints and move towards allowing people to develop according to their natural abilities. The more we break free of historically set stereotypes the better society will be.

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Re: Women + IT

"Both imply gender but the latter is 'softer' and considered less provocative."

What? "Softer" and "less provocative" to whom? You do realize that you have just taken a step slightly beyond "politically-correct" and straight into "looney" territory, right? Don't you guys have freedom of speech over there?

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Re: Women + IT

Refuting facts does nothing for your argument. Male nurses make up less than 6% of the total nurses in the US http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/ broken down at http://www.minoritynurse.com/minority-nursing-statistics and the one I know at a US clinic named like a condiment is treated like dirt. He does not want some special program to pat him on the head. His revenge is he thats the best and most of the snippy broads call him when they are in a bind.

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