back to article What Israel's crack majority-women Unit 8200 hackers can teach tech about diversity

Former members of an Israeli intelligence unit say their operation could serve as a model for the tech companies looking to bring more women into their ranks. Unit 8200 serves as the nation's signal intelligence unit and is credited with training a number of experts who go on to careers in cybersecurity. It also boasts a large …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Conscription ?

    That's the answer - force all women to do CS degrees or go to jail.

    ps would be interested in what their racial and religious diversity profile looks like.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Conscription ?

      They're in Israel ffs - what do you think their racial/religions diversity is going to look like?

      1. James12345
        Trollface

        Re: Conscription ?

        "They're in Israel ffs - what do you think their racial/religions diversity is going to look like?" - because only white European Jews live in Israel??????? AMBxx showing no prejudice there then.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conscription ?

        "what do you think their racial/religions diversity is going to look like?"

        The answer is "very diverse". The system of law for marriage and divorce has been devolved to religious courts because there are so many traditional variations even within the same nominal religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Only recently have those laws allowed a similar differentiation for atheists.

        On kibbutz in the 1970s there was a group of high school students visiting for a couple of weeks. It was apparently part of a cultural awareness program about the origins of the State. They were all Sabra***. You rarely see such a diverse group of phenotypes - except possibly in a cosmopolitan capital like London nowadays.

        There were different types: slim blonde Northern Europe; petite Yemeni; stocky Eastern European; elegant Iranians; latino Argentinian; light Africans... and many more.

        ***Sabra - a Jew born in Israel

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "You rarely see such a diverse group of phenotypes "

          Never been to school in Chigwell then?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conscription ?

        "They're in Israel ffs - what do you think their racial/religions diversity is going to look like?"

        Like the Europeans they mostly are?

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Conscription ?

          "Like the Europeans they mostly are?"

          People from Iran, Iraq, Egypt are far from being just White Europeans.

          Having lived in Israel for a few years I can easily tell you that there are two main groups, Ashkenazi and Spheradic. ( There are also others, indigenous or not)

          Ashkenazi could be grouped as Caucasian European

          Spheradic could be grouped vaguely as "Middle eastern", some of which are very white, some are not.

          It's a huge and very diverse mixture of backgrounds, ethnicity and culture..

          There is no such thing as a typical Israeli, other than the fact that they all speak Hebrew ( Modern Hebrew)...

    2. LucasNorth

      Re: Conscription ?

      Almost entirely Jewish as the Palestinian Israelis are not required to defend the state.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conscription ?

        What this article suggests is that women are more likely than men to be pushed into non-combat roles in the Israeli armed forces.

        But somehow this gets portrayed as the opposite of sexism, even though it's called sexism when our armed forces get caught doing it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dunno about hacking

    There is one obvious result from conscription in Israel - most women have had a mandatory self-defence course and a bloody good one to boot. As a result you can see a young lady going out on a jog alone in the park at times when it will be considered suicidal in UK or USA - like 11pm+ or even in the wee hours. Sure, you can try some unwanted attention. How does your head feel stuffed up your behind? Literally too.

    I am all for that one by the way. As well as its consequences.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dunno about hacking

      "There is one obvious result from conscription in Israel - most women have had a mandatory self-defence course and a bloody good one to boot. As a result you can see a young lady going out on a jog alone in the park at times when it will be considered suicidal in UK or USA - like 11pm+ or even in the wee hours."

      This is all perception rather thna reality. Th ereality is that men are many mor etimes likely to be physically attacked than women and if they are attacked much less likely to receive help from strangers. Despite this Men do go out jogging late at night probably because they have a better understanding of the magnitude of the risk and a better attitude to risk generally rather than the victimhood that is currently drummed into women.

      On the gender balance it is well known that the more choice and support women have, for example in scandanavian countries, the more polarised and more traditional roles the women choose to take up and the lower proportion of women in technical roles. Based on this it is unsurprising that conscription results in a closer gender balance but is this what we want or necessarily even a good thing? What is wrong with women doing what they want to do which is generallly not tech.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Dunno about hacking

        On the gender balance it is well known that the more choice and support women have, for example in scandanavian countries, the more polarised and more traditional roles the women choose to take up and the lower proportion of women in technical roles

        Ugh??? You are not making any sense, citation needed.

        Based on my observations, the issue with women in computer science related disciplines is a predominantly Anglo-Saxon phenomenon. It simply does not exist in Eastern Europe and is not particularly prevalent in Spain and Portugal (no opinion about Italy).

        The best sysadmin around those parts I happen to know is a lady, ditto for the best security professional/hacker, best embedded software developer and best protocol developer. Out of the many varied things I have done working with people from that part of the world the only one where the "best in class" label was carried by a lad was Java. Not sure if this is an advertisement for our gender or a curse. Probably a curse.

        1. Muncher23

          Re: Dunno about hacking

          VRH -- perhaps the ref is from PLOS "Countries with Higher Levels of Gender Equality Show Larger National Sex Differences in Mathematics Anxiety and Relatively Lower Parental Mathematics Valuation for Girls

          Gijsbert Stoet , Drew H. Bailey , Alex M. Moore , David C. Geary

          Published: April 21, 2016https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153857" or the article in the Atlantic

          https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/553592/

          There is an interesting graph which shows Algeria and Turkey with double the female STEM grads of Scandinavia

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Dunno about hacking

          Based on my observations, the issue with women in computer science related disciplines is a predominantly Anglo-Saxon phenomenon. It simply does not exist in Eastern Europe and is not particularly prevalent in Spain and Portugal (no opinion about Italy).

          Certainly not my experience in the UK. Having worked in IT since the mid 80s, my first 2 managers were female. I would say, over the years, I've worked for more female managers than male managers. The number of female programmers, analysts, testers and other "lower grade" roles was not as proportionally high as the men, but always around at least the 30% mark, with the exception of 2 companies where I worked - they didn't get enough female applicants for technical roles.

          In fact, through the 80s and 90s, there was a better distribution of females in IT, especially management roles, than I see in many companies today.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dunno about hacking

            "In fact, through the 80s and 90s, there was a better distribution of females in IT, [...]"

            In the 1960s many programming departments had a large number of women. A team from one software department would descend on the computer room to inspect the overnight test runs. The operators called it "Chris Timewell's United Nations" - and many of them, possibly the majority, were women.

            As a junior system support programmer I shared an office with four women programmers in their twenties and one other guy. The women had either joined with A Level qualifications or had worked their way up from being skilled card punchers for the Deuce mainframe.

            Even starting a family did not prevent women continuing their IT careers. Hilary Cropper's home-working "pregnant programmers" were enabled by Teletypes connected over phone lines to the online mainframes.

            System 4 programming courses in "Hut K" had many women attendees from large companies and government departments.

            In the late 1970s many support programmers were women graduates - before Computing Science became an established degree course. It was after that requirement started to become common that the number of women in IT roles seemed to decrease.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dunno about hacking

      As a result you can see a young lady going out on a jog alone in the park at times when it will be considered suicidal in UK or USA - like 11pm+ or even in the wee hours

      There are plenty of places in the UK and USA where a woman alone can go for a run at that time safely.

    3. amehaye

      Re: Dunno about hacking

      Ah... no, they don't undergo a mandatory self-defence course. The reason that women go jogging alone is because the streets of most cities in Israel are safe. Actually the only relatively unsafe area that I'm aware of is a small region in southern Tel-Aviv where many illegal immigrants from Africa reside.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dunno about hacking

        "Actually the only relatively unsafe area that I'm aware of is a small region in southern Tel-Aviv where many illegal immigrants from Africa reside."

        Also the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Jerusalem? A woman jogging in typical modern attire would not go down well there. Whether stones would be thrown is a moot point.

        1. Cheesemouse

          Re: Dunno about hacking

          Right. Who said "Jehova?"

    4. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Dunno about hacking

      There is one obvious result from conscription in Israel - most women have had a mandatory self-defence course and a bloody good one to boot. As a result you can see a young lady going out on a jog alone in the park at times when it will be considered suicidal in UK or USA - like 11pm+ or even in the wee hours.

      You also see that here in Switzerland; only Swiss men have compulsory military service.

  3. LucreLout Silver badge

    Missed opportunity

    2600 would have been a better numeric designation surely? A nice nod to the origins of popular hacking.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Missed opportunity

      This is a secret service, that's kinda the opposite of hackers. Those people use different kinds of force to concentrate information, Hackers share information.

      Such a total conscription probably is even bad for the hacker culture in Israel as people don't get taught to think by themselves in military and secret services.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missed opportunity

        "Such a total conscription probably is even bad for the hacker culture in Israel as people don't get taught to think by themselves in military and secret services."

        You presumably have not lived in Israel. Young Israelis on the whole are rebellious and non-conformist. That's probably why they do so well at innovation. That's the meaning of the word "Sabra" - defining a Jew born in Israel. It is the name of the Prickly Pear that is soft and sweet - once you get past the tough thorny exterior.

        That non-conformist characterisation would exclude the Ultra-Orthodox youth. Until recently those communities have sought an exemption from military service as would be "too corrupting" of their young folk. Indeed it would expose them to the delights of the secular world. Not sure if they are still trying to overturn that ruling. Instead of military service the boys went/go to religious schools. The girls are brought up to the equivalent of the old Afrikaner adage that translates as "Church, Kitchen, Children".

        1. Insert sadsack pun here

          Re: Missed opportunity

          "The girls are brought up to the equivalent of the old Afrikaner adage that translates as "Church, Kitchen, Children"."

          Afrikaner? German, more like. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder,_K%C3%BCche,_Kirche

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Missed opportunity

            "Afrikaner? German, more like. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder,_K%C3%BCche,_Kirche"

            Common origin. In the1970s it was still a statement of fact in many circles in South African society. A young programmer colleague was horrified that we ex-pats believed women should go to university. He considered that his new bride only needed enough education to do the household bills and manage the servants.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Missed opportunity

          "Young Israelis on the whole are rebellious and non-conformist. "

          I don't think you need to qualify that with young? They have after all been ignoring international law and numerous UN resolutions for many decades now.

    2. IceC0ld Bronze badge

      Re: Missed opportunity

      2600 would have been a better numeric designation surely? A nice nod to the origins of popular hacking.

      but that would also 'tell' people just what they are all about, and as such, would be counter productive, I would imagine, without checking, that 8200 is a generic non 'special' number ................

    3. Spanners Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Missed opportunity

      2600, whilst known around the IT community outside the "Land of the Fee", is pretty US specific,

      If you are going to be something that involves IT and security, your unit number should be the product of two primes. Having recently reread Cryptonomicon, I suggest Unit 2701.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Knock. Knock ... Global Communication HeadQuarters RAW Calling and Live Reporting

    Don't make a mistake and misinterpret this Registering Worshipful Venus Enterprise as Israeli whenever a Universal COSMIC Source is So Much More Easily Proven.

  5. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Military operation

    So will they be murdering the Palestinian children then?

    1. amehaye

      Re: Military operation

      It's generally the other way around, but don't let the facts confuse you.

      1. Lars Johansson

        Re: Military operation

        Actually, it's not.

        The facts, if you care to look them up, are that between 2005 and 2014 the death rates in the Israel-Palestine conflicts was roughly 1:23 (that is, one Israeli killed for every 23 Palestinians).

        https://www.vox.com/2014/7/14/5898581/chart-israel-palestine-conflict-deaths

        Another source (also from 2014) puts the over all rate at 1:8 since 2000, but specifically for children 1:19.

        https://garryleech.com/2014/08/08/israel-palestine-by-the-numbers/

        Both these sources cite UN figures. Those are the actual facts, but don't let that confuse you...

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Military operation

          That is one fact.

          Another fact is that Hamas are prefectly clear in their charter (article 13) that "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

          Which of course has no bearing on why any peace talks with Hamas involved fail miserably. But despite knowing this being important to understand the problem, the news systematically fails to mention this. And also generally seems to fail to mention the Hamas habit of storing and firing weapons from places of worship, schools and hospitals in the hope that return fire will blow the place up, giving them a propoganda coup.

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/31/why-hamas-stores-its-weapons-inside-hospitals-mosques-and-schools/

          Frankly, i'm more inclined to back Israel than Hamas. One side wants peace and tries to avoid civilian casualties and the other declares that "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad" and tries to kill as many of it's own citizens as possible just for the PR value.

          And then let's look at what they teach their kids. Watch Hamas TV and weep.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3OYjKZ2Cu8

          Or maybe their version of mickey mouse:-

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi-c6lbFGC4

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTK5PRtHjlk

          Personally, I think the conduct displayed by Hamas is utterly indefensible on many levels that I barely know where to start. I am certainly not too inclined to criticise Israel knowing what they are facing; would we do any better a job faced with the same circumstances?

          1. ardj

            Re: Military operation

            @Peter2

            I agree Hamas is disreputable to the point of being wicked. I also think that the present rulers of Israel are similar. This is not a venue for political argument, despite the difficulty of keeping politics out of anything, the more so given the topic of the present article. But you present such a one-sided view of the situation of the Palestinians, confined to just your view of Hamas, that one is inclined to think you are closed to any alternative views on anything.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Military operation

            "That is one fact.

            Another fact is that Hamas are prefectly clear in their charter "

            A nice distraction, but the vast majority of Palestinians are nothing to do with Hamas. And you are saying what a terrorist organisation does makes the atrocities of a supposed democratic state OK?!

        2. MrRimmerSIR!

          Re: Military operation

          You actually believe the UN is impartial in this matter?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Military operation

            "You actually believe the UN is impartial in this matter?"

            In terms of providing factual unbiased evidence, support of rule of law, etc. the UN are pretty inscrutable, yes.

            That such evidence generally shows Israel up to be a barbaric habitual human rights abuser means that it's apologists claim that the UN is biased. But it is only biased in terms of trying to support it's charters.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Military operation

        "It's generally the other way around, but don't let the facts confuse you."

        No, no it isn't. Your "facts" must come from Faux News or similar. Palestinian death rates are way higher than Israelis. There have been numerous well documented cases of unarmed Palestinian children being deliberately targeted and killed. The other way round - not so much.

        The Palestinians are resisting occupation by a terrorist state (as defined in at least 2 Amnesty International annual reports).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Military operation

      Both sides of that conflict have civilian blood on their hands.

      The longer it persists - the more Israeli politicians are drawn from the families who were expelled from Arab nations after many generations. Old European political values of compromise are in danger of being overtaken by the general Middle East "winner takes all" political attitude.

    3. MrRimmerSIR!

      Re: Military operation

      No silly, that's the job of the Pakistani Army.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_September

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Military operation

      "So will they be murdering the Palestinian children then?"

      More than usual you mean?

      https://www.theguardian.com/guardianweekly/story/0,,1310977,00.html

      https://www.mecaforpeace.org/one-palestinian-child-killed-every-3-days-by-israel-for-13-years-statistics/

  6. david 12 Bronze badge

    "a guy can make a remark that can make you feel so small and you don't want to talk in that meeting."

    And another problem exists when, after this happens, you attribute it to race or gender.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Holmes

      @david 12

      It may depend on the type of remark made,

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a guy can make a remark that can make you feel so small and you don't want to talk in that meeting."

      They should man up then ;)

  7. GX5000

    Diversity - doesn't mean what most people think it means anymore...

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