DefCon: Panel discusses diversty in security and just being yourself


During a rapid-fire discussion entitled “Diversity in Information Security” at DefCon 22 in Las Vegas, a racially diverse, uncensored and brutally honest group of gays, transgenders, women and “generic” white men discussed how it does not matter who you are at DefCon – and it should not in the industry, either.

“This is the safest environment you can be in to be who you really are,” Sandy “Mouse” Clark, a security researcher and part-time Phd. candidate, said of DefCon. She went on to say, “Whatever you are, whatever's inside of you, we will respect that.”

It is a sentiment shared by the entire panel, Scott Martin, CIO of Spikes Security, said.

Throughout the chat some numbers got thrown around – percentages indicating that DefCon tends to represent women better than similar conventions.

“I don't care if you're transgender, a woman, a man – I'm looking for a good piece of mind,” Priest, one of the “Goons” responsible for running the show, said. “If you're asexual, trisexual, or neutered – I don't care, it doesn't matter to me.”

Jennifer Imhoff-Dousharm, an informatics student, brought up the idea of “unconscious bias” and went on to state that people need to break the mold of thinking that all people in information security are white men. 

Perhaps it is not all that advantageous to be the white guy in the industry.

A full-time hacker known as “Jolly” said that although he was judged for his appearance – he has dark skin and wears a turban – at a younger age, he now benefits from it because people tend to remember him over the “generic” white guys in black shirts and glasses.

“Try finding one of them at DefCon,” Jolly said.

For more on diversity in information security, check out the latest “Women in IT Security” issue of SC Magazine.

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