Women employed in the cybersecurity industry have taken to Twitter this week to post photographs of themselves wearing bikinis in a show of solidarity and to highlight the inherent sexism that still exists within the industry after a woman was criticised online for posing in her bikini.
The critical Tweet came after Coleen Shane, founder and chief engineer for InfoSec Bad Girls and Hacker Spring Camp, posted a picture of herself at the beach in her bikini. In her Twitter bio, it states that she works in infosec, and the negative reply from a troll, who follows over 200 infosec-related accounts, focused on that fact and suggested that because she works in cybersecurity the picture of her in her “underwear” was unprofessional.
The reply prompted the following response from Coleen on Twitter…
That response quickly went viral, and Twitter was subsequently flooded with pictures of women in their bikinis - and also disrobed men and one bikini-clad dog! - using the hashtag #InfoSecBikini in a display of solidarity and support.
But this incident once again sparked the argument that discrimination, sexism, harassment and gender inequality still exist within the cybersecurity industry, with many commentators on those topics speaking out and calling for an end to infosec inequality.
According to an article by Vice.com, it is well known and documented that women and feminine-presenting non-binary people in the industry face constant harassment, both online and at conferences.
And a separate National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) study on diversity last year revealed more troubling findings, particularly that 74% of negative incidents still go unreported.
Coleen later stated that after her tweet she "received some terrible comments and unsolicited DMs over it, but so, so much more support."
"It's really awesome how supportive the community has been through all of this. It gives me hope for our industry which is rife with issues," she continued. "I am a little self-conscious after all of this though. As I am a trans woman, posting pics with my bony knees like this can be risky - especially with this degree of reach - but I do try very hard to be a positive role model for younger generations of people who are gender diverse and women in general."
The Tweet prompted both men and women to open up the debate about how women in the industry are treated differently to their male peers, and once again highlighted the gender pay gap, with women being paid, on average, 21% less than their male colleagues according to a report by ISC2 last year.
The debate rages on, as does the support for Coleen, with more and more Tweets flooding the #InfoSecBikini hashtag timeline.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).