The week of June 28 was a big one (not in a good way) for showcasing the persistence and depth of harassment and exclusion for women in cybersecurity. Those on infosec social media were flooded with bikini selfies protesting the harassment that a woman received for posting her bikini selfie. Men and women took to Twitter posting their #infosecbikini pictures, generating a wave of awareness, goodwill, and solidarity, which was amazing and should be applauded.
This is why we can’t have nice things
As if to slap us all in the face and remind us that we still live in the dark ages as far as harassment and exclusion are concerned, someone decided to turn those pictures (of solely the women, none of the men) into an infosec bikini calendar, without seeking the permission of these women. You cannot make this stuff up.
As we all riled and protested and retweeted and told our tales, what surfaced was a sense of deep rage. Along with our rage, we were surprised to feel overwhelming fatigue, exasperated not only by the many long months of pandemic isolation and confusion but also by a sense of cumulative trauma resulting from the daily cases of harassment and undermining of women in cybersecurity.
This was not an isolated incident — this was merely the latest and most visible example. These experiences are a daily occurrence for many women in this space, starting in higher education and training environments. Until recently, these experiences typically only come up in hushed or angry back-channel conversations. Industry veterans shook their heads, having experienced the spectrum of this trauma before, and those new to the profession watched the events in disbelief.
Tackling infosec gender diversity head-on in research
Even prior to this, the revolving door of issues facing women in security and risk led a few of us in the S&R team to write research helping our clients to deal with those issues.
Most were supportive, and others were skeptical. We were challenged to answer why, out of all diversity dimensions, single out gender as a topic of research. Do issues that our clients and colleagues raised with us about harassment at tech conferences still exist? It’s 2021, after all. Yet everywhere we turned, including in our backyard, there were gender-related cultural challenges.
The events of the week of July 12 reminded us in no uncertain terms that our research is more important than ever, and it aims to bring awareness to the top 10 most commonly raised gender-related questions, such as:
As we collaborated and wrote, as with all great pieces of research, we were challenged, and we challenged. Some of us wanted to promote the importance of networking and personal branding, only to be reminded that those were the domain of the very privileged. Some of us wanted to guide our clients to lean in until, mercifully, others reminded us that “leaning in” is, in fact, unnecessary emotional labor. Here is what we have agreed on:
We look forward to sharing this upcoming research with you — follow us all on social media for announcements.
This article is adapted from the original by Forrester’s principal analyst Jinan Budge, senior analysts Jess Burn and Alla Valente, and analyst Allie Mellen. The original article is here.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of DigitalWorkforceTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/Prostock-Studio