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  • Writer's pictureCyberdelegate Editorial Team

Need for Bridging the Gender Digital Divide

Gender-based violence is one of the most widespread human rights violations, and women are most vulnerable to it in cyberspace. Most of these online harassment and bullying also translate to offline violence. Therefore, acts of violence against women committed using or facilitated by information and communication technology have become a primary concern for societies and individuals.

The issues of gender-based violence and discrimination observed are as follows:

1. In cyberspace, women face gender-based violence, discrimination and are victimized in various instances. For example, there are situations women are explicitly targeted for "revenge pornography." "The term' revenge porn' covers the online posting of sexually explicit visual material without the consent of the person portrayed. The term typically includes photographs and video clips which have been consensually generated-either jointly or by self ("sexting"), as well as content covertly recorded by a partner or unknown third party."

  • A Study by the University of Exeter, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) shows almost 3 in 4 victims are female

  • 9 out of 10 female victims suffer intimate image abuse

  • 73% of callers to the Revenge Porn Helpline were female, 97% of whom reported personal image abuse.

The mental trauma that women have to undergo is because, in relationships today, it is common to send sexual texts and images to each other. Once relationships don't work out for some reason, disgruntled ex-partners often threaten women in the relationship with those pictures and photos. Women feel powerless and victimized at that point because of a potential threat to their reputation and modesty.

2. The digital gender inclusion divide between men and women is wide in India, at 70% male and 30% female. However, despite the fewer women online, we see far more cases of personally targeted crime against women than against men.

3. The underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and even fewer women in Cybersecurity. Due to a lack of knowledge about Cybersecurity, cyber law, and technology in general, women feel less confident and lack interest. This often leads to needing more basic information to protect themselves online and, as a result, end up not accessing ATM and online banking services. Therefore, there are most of the time needing more financial security and inclusion.

4. Harassment of nature where mobile numbers of women with lewd and sexually suggestive messages or images are posted on social media/websites is high. Often there is targeted hate speech against women, usually on pictures that they upload about clothes they wear or who they are within an image. This translates into incidents of hate speech that often impact their freedom of expression online.

5. Online enticement also takes place where women have been either defrauded into paying for getting jobs or lured onto online platforms where they would engage in obscene activities (See Cyber Peace Foundation's report on Bigo Live)

Therefore, it is needed for more women's participation in Cybersecurity.

"Cybersecurity has a human factor- to protect, to secure, to nurture" - Deneen Defiore, SVP & Global Information and Product Security Officer GE Aviation.

First, it's essential to have clarity on why it is necessary to have more women in Cyber because it's more complicated than hiring more women to boost the percentages and show that there are more women. In other words, the argument favoring greater gender equality in Cybersecurity is not about right vs. wrong or men vs. women… it's because having more women in the workplace is good for business. We embrace diversity in perspectives, leadership, and experience and re-enforces the feminist qualities that are much needed today and are suitable for business.

In other words, having more women help enforce a feminist culture in Cybersecurity. Let us understand what this means!

"At its core, Cybersecurity is about protecting people from harm and, when someone is victimized, discovering who did it. I enjoy protecting people from harm, pursuing bad actors, and continuously learning. I love my job." ~ Priscilla Moriuchi

Hofstede's Cultural Dimension Theory as a frame of reference

Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions Theory, developed by Geert Hofstede, is a framework used to understand cultural differences across countries and to discern how business is done across different cultures. In other words, the frame is used to distinguish between different national cultures, the dimensions of culture, and their impact on a business setting. One of the most critical cultural aspects is — Feminism Vs. Masculinity.

A score on the masculine dimension indicates that society will be driven by competition, achievement, and success, with success being defined by the winner/best in the field — a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational life. A score on the feminine dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine community is one where the quality of life is the sign of success, and standing out from the crowd is not admirable.

Qualities traditionally considered feminine — such as empathy, collaboration, and intuition — have long gone unrecognized in traditional workplace culture compared to masculine conditions, such as being direct, competitive, and assertive.

In the Cybersecurity Industry, it's time to own our feminine strengths at work. The definition of femininity will differ for everyone, and defining femininity for yourself is an individual path. Femininity is about having power represented as "grace with grit."

Importance of Caregiving in Cybersecurity and Deal with Cybercrime: Tech Caregivers

"Over time, what I've seen is that it's helpful for young women and girls in school to see somebody that looks like them in these cybersecurity spots." - Amy Hess, Head of Criminal Cyber, Response & Service Branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The best leaders today are caregivers. Caregiving has traditionally been viewed as feminine because it's been associated with mothering. Most women are involved in this field. A caregiver in the workplace nurtures their team's talent and inspires the best kind of work ethic with values, purpose, and passion.

When it comes to Cybersecurity, the role of the caregiver is ever-changing. We see that scammers and their techniques and tactics are constantly evolving, as shown in the social-media mining trend. Scammers/Hackers target people based on what they post in their feeds. Therefore, the industry faces an overwhelming problem related to growing parental anxieties, children's self-esteem, and other social issues. Having 'Tech Caregivers' can enforce the qualities most required to deal with the problem. These qualities involve empathy, compassion, sensitivity, and intelligence to solve issues.

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