Cybersecurity Needs Women

Article Cybersecurity Needs Women

Safeguarding our lives online requires skills and experiences that lie beyond masculine stereotypes of the hacker and soldier, says Winifred R. Poster.





  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


Women are more likely than men to fall victim to online identity theft and “sextortion” schemes, whereby online predators extort sexual favors from their targets by threatening to publish sensitive material about them. Yet when it comes to combating cybercrime, women are vastly underrepresented. In the journal Nature, Winifred Poster explains why – and what the sector can do to attract more female professionals. This article, which includes a history of women’s contributions to the field, will be an interesting read for recruiters, cybersecurity professionals and women who are thinking about becoming one.


During World War II and beyond, women made significant contributions to the field of cybersecurity. 

In the 1940s, women were at the forefront of inventing programming languages and intrusion detection systems. During World War II, ten thousand American women played a significant role in breaking secret communication codes sent by the German and Japanese armies. At the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the crypto-analyst Elizebeth Smith Friedman was instrumental in developing the field of cryptography, which enabled the US army to decode Nazi Enigma machines.

More recently, women have occupied leadership roles at the Defense Advanced Research Projects...

About the Author

Winifred R. Poster is a lecturer in international affairs at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

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