A professor of gender studies at the LSE recently came to San Francisco and presented to a small group. She spoke of interesting global trends and studies being done by the school. None of them addressed the shift I have noticed in technology access by women and how it relates to security or risk.
I asked her if anyone was studying the security effect of China Mobile's huge infusion of technology (as I wrote about before) to women in Pakistan, for example, or what the effect of social networks and innovative payment systems has had on women-run businesses in Africa. Does the American "hacker" stereotype get radically redrawn as the diversity of online users shifts?
Her blank stare was all I need to know the answer. We then discussed how flyingpenguin could fund graduate students to do some research under our direction and hopefully document and parse some of the fascinating new data for threat analysis.
In the meantime, I continue to watch announcements from various governments about facilitating technology access specifically for women in new and very large markets. Will there be an explicit security effort? Here is an example from the US:
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today that TechWomen – an international exchange that uses technology as a means to empower women and girls worldwide – will expand to sub-Saharan Africa beginning in 2013. TechWomen will bring women working in the technology sector from Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to the United States for a four to six week mentoring program with their American counterparts in the United States. The U.S. Department of State is currently accepting proposals to administer TechWomen in 2013. Please visit www.grants.gov for more information.
If you are interested in working with flyingpenguin on a grant proposal, or related analysis of gender and security, please contact me.