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Red Team, Blue Team: the Only Woman On the Team 247

ancientribe writes "Cyber security pro Kerstyn Clover in this Dark Reading post shares some rare insight into what it's like to be a woman in the field. She ultimately found her way to her current post as a member of the incident response and forensics team at SecureState, despite the common societal hurdles women face today in the STEM field: 'I taught myself some coding and computer repair in probably the most painstaking ways possible, but my experiences growing up put me at a disadvantage that I am still working to overcome,' she writes."
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Red Team, Blue Team: the Only Woman On the Team

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  • by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @02:39PM (#46112545)
    I agree. I'm wondering what's so different from her 'most painstaking ways possible' than what the rest of those in her field did? It's very common for the majority of the students in the field to struggle to understand concepts, references and information. That's why we go to school; we don't go to school to be told things we already know.
  • News flash (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @02:56PM (#46112705)

    Yes, it's true. Some professions are dominated by men, some by women. Nature made it that way. People should be allowed to go into whatever profession they desire without being hindered by some asshole with a sexist complex (of either gender). If they can't cut it, they should be let go like anyone else without screaming "discrimination".

    That said, I think more men should be allowed to go backstage to compete at lingerie shows,

  • Re:Blah Blah Blah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @03:23PM (#46112907)

    She never asked for special treatment.

    She told about her experiences and about her being discouraged by people who thought she shouldn't be doing what she's doing because she was a girl.

    The result of the article was that they were having an even to create awareness about the field, and to offer support to any girls who would like to help but might feel uncomfortable because they're girls too, and they might feel that girls aren't supposed to do these things.

    In my mind, this is some of the best kind of action to try and help women fairly get into the field. She's reaching out to girls who are already interested in the field, but nervous about how they might be perceived, and she's offering to support them. She's not pushing for special treatment, she's not pushing for special hiring practices. She's not even claiming things aren't fair.

    She's saying: "I'm a woman in this field, it was culturally hard for me to get into here because I'm a woman, but I'm enjoying it and I got to be pretty good at it. If you are interested in the field but are afraid to pursue it because you're a woman, we're hosting an event for men and women where you can learn about it, and drop me a line so I can give you some support."

  • Re:Blah Blah Blah (Score:4, Interesting)

    by operagost ( 62405 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @03:36PM (#46113015) Homepage Journal

    It takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to claim women can do anything men can do, then ask for special treatment so that you can prove it.

    I wouldn't laud her her success as a female security professional-- because that's BS-- but because she has done so at the age of 21. That's the more impressive part.

  • omg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @05:20PM (#46114263) Homepage Journal

    I taught myself some coding and computer repair in probably the most painstaking ways possible

    And you found yourself in the IRT. Frankly, that you got there is a miracle and has nothing to do with gender, but with the fact that if someone with half a clue put it together, he was looking for experts who know their stuff even when you wake them with an emergency at 4 am.

    I've been working in IT for almost 20 years. Yes, women are few. But I'll punch the next one who whines about widespread discrimination straight in the face, because it's a lie. Most nerds are too afraid to give them any shit, most managers are happy to find a woman in the field, and most of the rest frankly don't give a fuck if you're man, woman, transvestite or an alien from Betelgeuse, as long as you know what you're doing.

    If you want to complain about discrimination, there's dozens of jobs out there where even an outsider can see it still exists. IT isn't one of them.

  • Re:Blah Blah Blah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ravenlord_hun ( 2715033 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @05:28PM (#46114329)

    I wasn't aware that the law was the only way someone could be discriminated against. Thanks for reminding me of that. I retract all previous statements. We licked that whole racist problem the day we made it illegal. Nothing to see here, move along.

    While parts of society tend to pick up changes slower than the law (which, ideally, reflects the majority's view on topics), they eventually have to. That's how countries work; the majority will force the popular behaviors onto the minority. Nowadays, for example, it's fairly straightforward to record evidence of discrimination and then turn to a lawyer.

    Yes, I can understand how judging people on the basis of the abilities, instead of their sex organs, could be a confusing concept to some.

    Yes, I can understand how pointing out the flaws in your argument makes me a horrible, horrible person... instead of your argument being, well, over-dramatized to the point of losing any shred of credibility. You don't argue with the rule of bigger numbers, like drawing from a larger pool offering better chances at getting a workers with better abilities (which is the real deal instead of suddenly geniuses popping up). All you did was a cheap appeal at emotions... because making a rational argument would've taken effort, I guess.

    When we judge people only by the strength of their contributions, and give them equal opportunity to pursue the fields of their choice, then we have met our social obligation. But until our expectations of others are truly equal, any answer to this question will simply reflect our own prejudices.

    Coming with the ridiculous blanket statements again. Not that we shouldn't try, but noone will be ever truly equal. The poor schmuck in the middle of nowhere may have aspirations but will have no money for getting any education that gets him into any fancy campus - compare that to the better-than-average citizen who has access to private tutors and the like. Or are these flaws of the system okay by you, just because you aren't affected?

  • Re:evolution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stdarg ( 456557 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @05:37PM (#46114463)

    You should search for "feminist mathematics" and you'll get some interesting reading.

    I don't know how mainstream it is, but there is a feminist movement that accepts that male and female brains work differently, and that therefore different approaches are needed to include women in science and mathematics. For example, check out this preview [] of a paper which discusses a need for a new philosophy, pedagogy, and epistemology for mathematics. I don't have access to the full text, but for me it's previewing page 1 (just an intro) and page 276 which is dealing with pedagogy. This is one of the critiques for why current mathematical teaching is unsuitable for women:

    Mathematics tends to be taught with a heavy reliance upon written texts which removes its conjectural nature, presenting it as inert information which should not be questioned. Predominant patterns of teaching focus on the individual learner and induce competition between learners. Language is pre-digested in the text, assuming that meaning is communicated and is non-negotiable. [...]

    Like science, therefore, mathematics is perceived by many students and some teachers as "a body of established knowledge accessible only to a few extraordinary individuals" (Rosser, op.cit. p. 89). Indeed, the supposed 'objectivity' of the discipline, a cause for questioning and concern by some of those within it, is often perceived by non-mathematician curriculum theorists as inevitable....

    I mean what do you think of that? Boys do pretty well, apparently, with this type of teaching and the view that mathematical theory is objective and that by writing things down we can communicate knowledge. But there are "feminist mathematician curriculum theorists" who think that's BS and that it's a social construct resulting from the influence of male thinking in mathematics. There's a better way to teach it to girls.

    True? Or do you think these feminists are as crazy as the guy you responded to in thinking that just maybe men and women think differently? They are taking two different approaches (one criticizes the female brain for not understanding it as presented when the male brain has no problem doing so, the other criticizes the material and its presentation as unsuitable for the female brain) but the underlying message is the same. I'm curious what you think about this.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @05:42PM (#46114515) Journal

    For any women, or me, interested in cyber-security, the Texas A&M system has some free, online, college credit courses at []

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"