Winifred Poster

Abstract: Gender and CyberSecurity

Cybersecurity professionals have been primarily male, and recruitment efforts have focused largely on men. Recently, however, women are entering at increasing numbers, and making important contributions in a variety of capacities – from state info-czars and analysts, to military game designers and cyber-spies. Over the next three years, the industry is projected to need another 1.5 to 2 million workers. This has led some to argue that the field’s future depends on its ability to attract, retain, and promote women. This presentation will make the case that cybersecurity needs women, and conversely women will be increasingly reliant on cybersecurity. Given that certain types of security breaches disproportionately affect women (from commercial data hacks, to identity theft, and online harassment), advocates and policy makers will look to cybersecurity as a means to promote digital gender equity.


Winifred Poster is a sociologist with a PhD from Stanford University. She teaches at Washington University, St. Louis, and has held recent visiting positions at universities in India, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and the Intel Science & Technology Center for Social Computing at UC Irvine. Her interests are in digital globalization, feminist labor theory, and Indian outsourcing. Under several grants from the National Science Foundation, she has been following information and communication technology industries from the US to India, both in earlier waves of computer manufacturing and software, and later waves of back-office data processing and call centers. Her research explores the labors of surveillance, crowdsourcing, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. Her latest books are Invisible Labor with Marion Crain and Miriam Cherry (UC Press), and Borders in Service with Kiran Mirchandani (University of Toronto Press).