back to article Women shun careers 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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  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    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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      1. CADmonkey

        Re: footnote...

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

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: footnote...

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


          A new internet meme is born.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Robin

        Re: footnote...

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

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Wzrd1

          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.

      3. CADmonkey


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

        I agree, you must be a bit sad

    3. Throatwobbler Mangrove

      Ma ütlen, ma ütlen, ma ütlen ...

      ...mul ei ole nina.

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  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. wowfood

      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.

      1. Eurydice Sophie Exintaris

        Re: Women + IT


        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?

        1. wowfood

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Women + IT


            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.

            1. NukEvil
              Thumb Down

              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?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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 :-)

          1. t.est

            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.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. oolor

            Re: Women + IT

            >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.

            Great idea! Beyond the absolute stupidity of this comment, it is unfeasible.

            Where to start?

            >5mL of testosterone

            - pregnancy category X (teratogenic effects regardless of baby's gender)

            - testosterone is a powder at room temp, so 5mL is very imprecise measure

            - regardless volume, that is about the dose used by an advanced bodybuilder over an entire 8-week cycle

            - oral bio-availability is low and varied leading to dosing issues for a controlled study

            >Woman don't make it

            Women have around 1/10-1/30 the levels of men:

            "It is also synthesized in far smaller quantities in women by the thecal cells of the ovaries, by the placenta, as well as by the zona reticularis of the adrenal cortex and even skin[103] in both sexes"

            as per:

            Thank you for coming out of the idiot closet, now if you can please step back inside, we will gladly set it ablaze.

        5. Rab Sssss

          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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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 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.

      3. Sean Kennedy

        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.

        1. Seanie Ryan

          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 **

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Women + IT

        It's true that on average men do better at women on tests of things like spatial awareness, which is what you need for building an IKEA cupboard - although many men do badly at these tests and many women do well. But the idea that you need to be able to have good spatial awareness to be good at IT security is 100% double-jointed hogwash.

        I am a woman working at the techie end of IT security, at a senior level. I score close to zero on spatial awareness. This has never been the slightest problem for me in my job. The furniture in my office comes ready-assembled.

        I've met many women who had all the qualities to become excellent IT security professionals, but who never considered it as a career, because they'd be repeatedly told that it's not a suitable job for women. I was darn near put off myself. We have a serious shortage of IT security professionals in the UK. If capable women weren't discouraged from working in this area, we wouldn't have such a problem.

    2. Alan Bourke

      Re: Women + IT

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

    3. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: Women + IT


      I refute your argument with my lengthy career in IT.

      A lady.

      1. Ragarath

        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.

        1. Admiral Grace Hopper

          Re: Women + IT

          Remind me not to attempt humour in these forums.

          Johnson's refutation of Bishop Berkeley

          1. gribbler

            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!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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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          1. t.est

            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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        2. Anonymous Coward
          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 :-(

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

      3. 33rpm

        Re: Women + IT

        Refuting facts does nothing for your argument. Male nurses make up less than 6% of the total nurses in the US broken down at 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.

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Women + IT

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

    5. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Women + IT

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Women + IT

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

          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.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          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.

      3. t.est

        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.

    6. John Sanders

      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.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    8. t.est

      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?

    9. Dazed and Confused

      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.

    10. oolor

      testosterone, gender, and individual preferences

      While many poor points have been made about the male and female brain and the effects of hormones on development, it is true that in aggregate, there are some differences. In general the bell curve for such biological differences is steeper for females, that is, they are more likely to be average. In many specialized parts of IT such as security, one is very likely to be selecting individuals from the far right tail of the bell curve and such individuals are much more likely to be male (I make no representation here as to what the actual traits may be, simply that male variance is higher). The flip side of this is that females are much less likely to be on the far left tail of the bell curve for biologically influenced traits and thus are also under-represented in violent crime and psychopathy (and yet I never hear women complain of this ;-).

      Oddly enough, many IT people, particularly the odious young know-it-all males are actually low testosterone and high estrogen. This kind of ruins the argument that testosterone and its effects on spatial awareness, 3-D mental rotation, and numeracy skills are the prime determining factors as such skills are actually more on display in the oft derided business executive, as are social skills (talking about social dominance, not being nice). On the flip side, controlling behaviour is an example of a lack of social dominance, though many people fall for it as we are pack animals after all.

      If anything, social and multitasking opportunities in other fields are more likely the main determinants in the disparity in numbers. Many IT jobs are more likely to be relatively constrained as opposed to a similar pay and responsibility level position elsewhere in most companies. Women (as a group, not necessary individual females) enjoy variety and novelty more than they will let on in public.


      This post makes no assumptions about individuals, nor of individual traits as sole determining factors, nor that an observed group correlation must hold true for an individual, nor that all IT work is the same. It does, however, make sweeping generalizations based on group data that is pretty well accepted in the biological and neuropsychology fields. Make of it what you wish.

      <my niece said "uncle, the happy one." She has been "hack computer" since age 2, oh the irony.

  3. Uberseehandel

    I am not the least bit surprised that few women are drawn to security training.

    Several times in my career i have had to support strong competent women who have been viciously and pointlessly attacked by security specialists. In all these instances, the source of the trouble has been a male security specialist who has worn a uniform in a former career.

    Whilst the security sector continue to provide a cultural home for superannuated, under educated sociopaths, I can't see this situation changing. And in case you are wondering, I don't have a problem with people in uniform, I just want them to but it behind them when the quit.

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    I did IDS for a while

    Which certainly counted as cyber security. I have since moved on to other things. It's got nothing to do with my gender though.

    Why are fewer women putting themselves forward for training? I've no idea. I moved on because the role became subsumed with a different empire within in my company which I didn't want to join. This looks to me like QA using a handy stat to drum up some free publicity.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It ought to be easy to work out

    If Women are shunning cyber security even more than they shun the rest of IT, then it might be reasonable to suppose that the reasons for women shunning IT in general apply even more so to the Cyber-Security field. I am of course assuming that the reasons for the general case are understood. If they're not, then I doubt that there is any point asking the question about Cyber-Security.

    My money is on them not wanting to get involved in a field which is full of hype, bullshit and aggressive career building on the efforts and work of others.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I sit next to a dog who speaks Estonian

    Or put another way, she's no oil painting.

  7. Wilco
    Thumb Down

    Oh FFS

    Can you not see it's just a tiny bit offensive to compare women to dogs? Even in jest. Hello? El Reg? The 1970's wants it's attitude back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh FFS

      Get a life and learn how to click on a reply button.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh FFS

        You sir, are a complete tool.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My company has an office in Thailand and there is like a 50% mix out there male/female. Maybe it's just British women who have this attitude. IT is seen as 'geeky' and 'nerdy' over here, whereas in other places there is a little less of an anti-intellectual attitude.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      You fear you might find the "a woman takes pride in being clueless" attitude all over the continent. Maybe less so in Germany though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "whereas in other places there is a little less of an anti-intellectual attitude."

      You may be right, but I suspect it may be more of a "there isn't an entrenched gender division".

      In the West, engineering grew up as a heavy, dirty, male occupation, and all the industries that inherit from engineering seem to have the same attitude. In countries where they went straight from Third World to late 20th century - which includes places like South Korea - that bit of traditional gender roles got missed entirely.

      Apparently one of the things that really, really pissed off German prisoners after the Battle of the Kursk was that many of them surrendered to Russian tanks crewed by women.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "whereas in other places there is a little less of an anti-intellectual attitude."

        "many of them surrendered to Russian tanks crewed by women."

        Similar attitudes caused Israel to no longer put women in front combat roles because Egyptian soldiers -- male only -- would not surrender to female soldiers (and fought on).

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Wtf ?

    In what universe is 18 per cent considered rare ? You think one dog in six can talk do you ,.

  10. The Axe

    Women in IT is rare, so are men in teaching

    So it's rare for women to be in IT. It's also rare for men to be in teaching, especially primary schools. But because the gender equality feminists are misandrists they want to force men to allow women into male dominated sectors using gender rather than ability as the criteria. But when it comes to female dominated sectors, they still keep men out. Thats because feminists are misandrists and have no interest in equality, it's just a narrative they can use as a cover for the more gullible of their followers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Women in IT is rare, so are men in teaching

      I considered a career in teaching, but the thought of crap pay, terrible conditions and the ever present threat of being accused of kiddy fiddling or being punched in the face by an irate mother because I dared to tell her little angel off kind of put me off.

      A bloke.

  11. smudge Silver badge

    What's in a name?

    I agree with the correspondents above who note that gender differences probably have a lot to do with it.

    But I can't help thinking that the term "cyber security" must put off a lot of people, especially women. To me - and I've worked in this area since before some of you were born - it suggests robotic machines, automatic locks and cameras and weapons, the Terminator, certain enemies of Dr Who. Hard, nasty things. Attractive to macho blokes, maybe - to women, not.

    So maybe a gentler, less in-yer-face term might make a difference. A more empathetic term. Might even make an improvement to the whole subject area, if followed through. For starters, I suggest the well-used term "information assurance". Any more?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's in a name?

      LOL at the idea of bloke sin IT Security being 'Macho'.

  12. Compact101

    I work for a large International IT company any have many women on our projects in all roles.

    Though I will admit the more geekier perceived the role, the less chance of finding women.


    We have plenty of Indian colleagues working both off & onshore and they have a good mix of both male and female working in all areas. So maybe just a Uk thing

  13. Eurydice Sophie Exintaris

    I was literally the only woman there!

    I beg to differ. Yes, I like being obnoxious, but no, that's not why.

    I am a woman. I wear skirts, paint my face (you know, that eyeliner thing?0, and have a bigger collection of shoes and earrings than you have web-based accounts. Trust me. (although I'd compete very directly on that front too). But. My life is inextricably linked with technology. I love it, I work with it, in it, I evangelise about it. I'm a woman, I'm a techie, and I'm a geek. A geek? Yes, a tech geek. I loved it, I studied it, I live it. Nobody told me "no, you're a girl, you should give sponge baths". Read on...

    In my high school, you chose to specialise in Maths or Biology. In my class, I was the one and only girl who chose Maths... Even our Maths teacher was a man. I did feel singled out, but it wasn't by my classmates. Then, I went on to study Computer Engineering, another place where I was one amongst maybe 20 women, at best, in a classroom of 100-150. I noticed it, but it never meant anything. It was just a statistic. Just like the fact I was one of three students from my high school who made it -at all- into that University. Just a number. It never mattered.

    So maybe I'm the dog who speaks... Last night, I went to a "Women in European Business" conference. At the end, there was networking. I walked out of the auditorium onto a floor full of women, elbow-to-elbow, as far as the eye could see. And I didn't know a single one of them. You wouldn't believe how quickly I ran off... Too many women! It just wasn't my element. If I'm a dog who speaks, I am most comfortable around others of my species (tech geeks). Or, you know, men... who are in tech... (sense a trend?)

    Reading this, I now wonder if being more comfortable around men (than women) is (as a woman) as singular an occurrence as a dog speaking estonian. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it's that technology is my favourite common ground with people, and I'd never properly noticed gender issues. There were statistics, not issues.

    I hope that women do not feel discouraged from studying maths, computer science or engineering. Being able to solve problems isn't a male-only thing. It's a being-human thing. Get on with it.

    Epilogue: For the record, I do work in IT, will always have an IT-centric role (technology - and its advocacy - is a huge part of my life), and I have never, not even for a second, contemplated going into security.

    And trust me, it's not because it's full of men. I think we've already established I prefer that.

  14. Andy_S_London

    We've got 6 (will shortly be 7) women in our information security team (which will be 35% of the current total). We've generally had a number of quality female applicants for roles advertised in the last couple of years.

    It's fair to say that the majority work on the policy, risk mgmt, awareness, compliance side of the function rather than in the more technical roles.

  15. Electric Panda

    There are plenty of women in IT security. I'm a man working in that field and have met more than my fair share of women in said same field, often doing technical and practical roles.

    Women don't use computers, though, so who am I kidding?

  16. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The paucity of women in programming is a shame. The few I've come across seem to be very competent. They tend not to rush into coding without thinking about it first and take it more seriously.

    They are also nice to look at :)

  17. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


    "Everybody knows dogs don't speak, hey Gaspode?"

    "Yeah right, bark, bark"

  18. Bluenose

    Many of the comments here reinforce stereotypes

    And what makes it worse is that the stereotypes are being applied to both genders.

    Our "brain wiring" is just as much a product of what we do regularly and as our nature. Those women who work in security develop the appropriate wiring in order to do their job. This is true of DIY or any other work, the reason practice makes perfect is because it naturally reinforces the brain's processing of specific tasks.

    On the other side is the fact that many women see IT security (and probably IT in general) as the domain of spotty geeky glasses wearing male teenagers who rarely raise their heads above battlements of pizza boxes and fizzy drink tins. We who work in the industry know that such an image is unrealistic in the main and that most of us work in brightly illuminated rooms in buildings where it is as easy to get a nice salad as pizza.

    The reason why women are not in IT is because we who are allow the media to continue to portray as the "Plague" of the "Girl Who.." books or the hacker in Die Hard 4.0. And to make it worse we accept such negative stereotyping. Perhaps if we pushed a modern and realistic image of our industry then we would get a better set of potential candidates from both genders.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many of the comments here reinforce stereotypes

      "Our "brain wiring" is just as much a product of what we do regularly and as our nature"

      Exactly. Our brains don't get fully wired until we are adults (and even later - London taxi drivers are notorious because a part of their brain grows as they do "the Knowledge").

      The problem I see is peer pressure. Once children go to play school they are exposed to tiny tots whose parents are already heavily into gender stereotyping. Little boys come back pointing sticks and saying "bang", but they don't know why, just that other little boys do it.

    2. magrathea

      Re: Many of the comments here reinforce stereotypes

      "Our "brain wiring" is just as much a product of what we do regularly and as our nature."

      That’s supposition.

      We do know there are significant physiological differences between men and women and in all cultures men and women display significantly different preferences and responses in aggregate. Even if your assertion were true, wiring would take overwhelming precedence in most cases because it is there without further action

      “On the other side is the fact that many women see IT security (and probably IT in general) as the domain of spotty geeky glasses wearing male teenagers who rarely raise their heads above battlements of pizza boxes and fizzy drink tins”

      Perhaps; and perhaps the perception of nerdy-low-status is very important and negative to women because of their wiring regarding the social status of males.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Many of the comments here reinforce stereotypes

        We may not be fully wired unti lwe're adults, but the groundwork is still laid while we're in the womb.

        You can't just rip all that up, sure you can put in relays, parallel circuits etc, but that initial feminine brain wiring is still there. And once again I reiterate feminine / masculine refers to the testosterone and estrogen levels during the first trimester, not to the actual gender of the fetus / child / adult / person.

        Lets go for a house analogy shall we? You have a south facing house with a garden, and a north facing house with a garage.

        You can add a garden to one or a garage to the other, but one is still north facing, and the other is still south facing.

        You can let teh garage fall into disrepair and you can let the garden get overgrown, but it's still a garage, and it's stil a garden.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Many of the comments here reinforce stereotypes

          The only things wrong with your analogy is that the brain is nothing at all like a house and its wiring is not fixed. New neurons are constantly being formed*, old ones are dying, and the development of different parts of the brain is influenced by the things we think about - hence the documented brain changes in taxi drivers. During the life of a neuron the number of synapses can alter. It looks increasingly as if long term memory is created by a rewiring of connections.

          "Initial feminine brain wiring" is about as scientific as astrology.

          *You will still read on the Internets that brain cells do not form after birth but recent research has shown this is far from the truth. The reasons for this belief are not clear. It's well known, for instance, that the brains of songbirds develop enormously in Spring and shrink equally dramatically in the Autumn. Perhaps it was the, still very common, bias of scientists to believe that human beings are in some way unique, a belief that is really just as lacking theoretical and experimental foundations as the "men are fundamentally different from women" belief.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Many of the comments here reinforce stereotypes

        Perhaps; and perhaps the perception of nerdy-low-status is very important and negative to women because of their wiring regarding the social status of males.

        Working with computers means communicating with them but perhaps it only satisfies men with their relatively poor communication skills. Maybe women, being generally better communicators, find it unsatisfying. One other thing I've noticed is that men are more likely to swear and shout at a computer suggesting we are more invested in it and that women know it's just a machine.

  19. DAN*tastik

    There are videos of dogs saying "Hello" on the internet

    But I didn't see any of women typing "Hello world". Not even one by David Attenborough!

    Do they really exist???

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poker

      The reason less women play poker and other competative card games as such is because the king is more valuable than the queen and the feminazis can't take that form of gender inequality. Even more so there is a second male card, the jack, but no second female card. As such card games are all sexist and heavily weighted against women. They will therefore refuse to play any of them until the queen is rightfully worth more than the king, and the jack has been renamed Jill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poker

        Adding to my previous comment, all english people should refuse to play card games until the queen is worth more than the king. Long live the queen!

        Actually get rid of the king and rename it the prince for Philip, and then rename jack charles to correctly reflect the modern moncarchy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poker

      You might want a word with Victoria Coren about that.

      Women not competitive? Have you met enough to form an opinion?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It needs to be easier, more affordable and more appealing to women, in order for them to enter this vital segment of the IT economy.”

    They are not barred. If only 6.2% of women are in the program it is probably because only 6.2% of them were female applicants.

    This "There must be 50% women in all jobs" is BS. You are free to choose whatever career you want. Are we going to mandate that 50% of all nail and hair care stylists be male? Women want access to all-male gyms citing discrimination. A man applies to join an all female gym and he's a perv.

    I know in Canada they set a goal of 20% of all combat troops be female. I think they reached 4% max. Women don't want to be in a fox hole getting shot at. You set standards, you then live by them. If women don't apply (or minorities or different religious groups) or qualify for the position then you deal with it and move on.

    Women have a right to apply for any position they want and will bloody well sue if they are discriminated against. Do not legislate how jobs should be staffed by global census otherwise half of you will be replaced by the Chinese and Indians.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Horse riding, anyone?

    A little off-topic: horse-riding magazines are aimed at both sexes. (I know of no other sport where men and women compete on equal footings at all levels.)

    A little on-topic: I wish a lot of men had chosen another career rather than IT.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    women in IT?

    From what I have seen, if a woman is qualified and has experience in the relevant IT career, she is more than likely to be considered more than a male candidate is due to the over populated scenario of IT as this article points out.

    However if a man has experience and is more than qualified in a typical female job i.e. admin work he stands no chance.

    The bottom line is men are less discreminating than women when it comes to these things and this is a fact - I have read this in some experiment done for the latter part of my comment.

  24. ElPoto

    Where are they

    I know like 8, and I personally work with 2 women, in IT security... There are also like 3 dogs in cages outside that I think are used to watch the building, but I never get close enough to hear what are they speaking.

  25. roselan


    is like an animted gif on el reg: unique!

  26. MegC

    Right so...

    We (as a society, in general) tell girls to play with dolls from a young age and boys to play with computers and gadgets like that...

    Is it any wonder why a greater percentage of women grow up to be Hairdressers, Nurses, Make Up Artists and boys are generally more likely to be Mechanics, Electricians and I.T. Professionals?

    I don't think its a physical "wiring" of the brain because of hormones issue, its a "society" issue.

    But hey, as a women in I.T. surrounded by guys that's just my tuppence.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not an exciting area

    I was thinking of getting into IT security at one point, I was put off by a colleague who had done it for a spell, according to him he spent all his time dealing with sad pimply, socially outcast, 15 year old boys who thought they were super hackers because they had downloaded a script to exploit IIS from some internet site they had found on Google.

    I know a number of women in testing, development and graphics in IT, and as a matter of fact GIS systems seem to have an overabundance of them from my experience.

  28. Stephen Channell

    Time was when Computing was "women's work"

    Shocking as Eadon (and other pontificates) may find it, but in 150 year history of Computing, the time dominated by men amounts to 20% - 30% of time... in statistical terms that is still short enough to count as a "blip". When electronic computers were introduced 50 years ago, it was thought that men did not have the diligence for computer programming, and only changed when the Apollo programme made computer programming a glamorous activity for Engineers.

  29. Maharg

    Kids toys

    I am a man with a twin sister.

    My parents in their wisdom raised us to share very rarely got separate presents on our birthday, I remember one birthday maybe 7 or 8 years old where the two ‘main’ presents were a paint set and an electronic game where you had to more an animated man towards a dragon and try to steal his eggs, you could move backwards and forwards and had to time it so the dragon wasn’t looking otherwise he would breath fire on you, (this might date me somewhat). Neither me nor my sister were told which to play with, even the wrapping paper was the same on both presents, but my sister went straight to the paint set and I spent hours on that game.

    The point I am trying to make is that I neither of us was forced to go one way, neither was told not to play with certain toys, but while we did share our toys, inevitably I went towards the more ‘male’ toys and my sister towards ‘female’ toys.

    Women in IT has very little to do with discrimination, and more to do with them just not being interested in the subject, and while IT is maybe 90% male the HR and Marketing departments are 90% female, does this mean men are discriminated against when it comes to HR & Marketing?

    If someone can do the job well they get the job, regardless of gender, however you can’t have more female IT staff if more female IT staff don’t apply, and I honestly think that’s not going to change regardless of any government set figures.

  30. SirDigalot

    Women are generally not in IT

    Because they are smarter than men and realize IT is crap and makes people grumpy.

    and they are generally better looking.

    and I am bitter

    and twisted

  31. Lars Silver badge

    So what

    What this article says is that the number of female taking part in cyber security is low. So what.

    This question about the lack of women in professions with more men than women is old. So far there has been less about professions with more women than men.Open source, any programming. There are those who try find a reason for it among the messages here. Good ones or bad ones, who knows.

    Tradition is surely one reason. If you want to have your hair cut in Northern Europe it will most likely be done by a woman. In Spain, Italy and so forth most likely by a man. Probably no difference in the result.

    When I was seven our teacher, a women, asked us about what we would like to become as adults. The boys wanted to become fire fighters, captains, policemen, soldiers and so forth. Then there was, suddenly, one guy who wanted to become a dentist. Complete silence in the class and then a huge laugh. Who wants to become a dentist. Poor bastard, I suppose his father was a dentist, perhaps he become one too, or did we kill him. Now I cannot remember anything about what the girls wanted to be, too dull stuff to remember, perhaps. Tradition and family are certaily thing who affect us as children. But where is the problem. I had absolutely no feeling to become a nurse regardless of the lack of a vagina. Forgive me, trying to add humour to this, I think I failed. Anyway, I have known several superb programmers from the opposite sex. The only difference I have seen is that men have some inbuilt tendency to fuck around with stuff like using side effects of instructions that sometimes are very clever but awfully ugly to maintain, if you do not know it in advance. Men have a tendency to try to squeeze their cook into the code. Women whose code I have seen never seem to do that. More straight forward, no gimmicks, but on the other hand, you hardly see them at work at nights or weekends, children, husbands, better things to do or just more intelligent, who knows.

    About women testers, I remember one who was given a list of codes the program was supposed to accept. It did, only it did accept almost any other code too. I suppose any guy would have made the same mistake too. Proves nothing, of course.

    So where is the problem. If a women does not feel like working in IT. So what.

    OK. there has been a lot about the difference between brains, and why not. There was a program about Chimps where the kids where handed human kid toys and the girls took the "soft" toys and boys the "boys" toys. And so what. I do think there is a difference between men and women but is that difference bigger than the one among men and women, perhaps not, and so what

  32. John Tserkezis

    It's been called Technophobia.

    Aside from what you'd expect from the term, a sheer feer of technology, society has beaten women into roles that are "acceptable", because society (and I'm poining fingers at parents here) doesn't understand and actively fears technology.

    All that "be what you want to be" mantra has been mostly thrown by the wayside by the parents (mothers?) of the girls who grow up not having any interest in technology to start with - because they've been taught that way.

    I'm not buying the "brains are wired that way" argument, because at least in this instance, it doesn't factor, or in some cases, is a benefit over men's wiring.

    I've worked with very few women over my career, and on average, their performance wasn't always stellar - but then again, I've worked with some blokes in my time too - and I've seen some fecking monumental morons there...

    On the upside, at least from my casual observation, girls (the younger ones) are much more tech savvy and interested than the ones that were brought up with a 50's mindset - that said, again just from my casual observation - parentage has a LOT to do with it too.

    So if you're going to blame anyone, blame the parents.

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