(Credit: Josh Long and James Martin/CNET)
Defcon isn't your typical tech conference. Happening in the heat of Las Vegas every summer, it attracts throngs of hackers -- 15,000 this year -- who are eager to learn about, and test out, the latest methods of breaking into computer networks, hacking phones, and general slaying of any type of security system imaginable.
Security professionals and researchers give highly technical talks, but the event is known as much for its side-show theatrics, hacking contests, and DJ and booze-filled parties as it is the sessions. Black t-shirts and jeans predominate among the mostly young adults, though many have families of their own and even bring their children to attend Defcon Kids. Males have always way outnumbered females, although that too is changing.
However, it's one thing to be one of the few women hackers at Defcon. It's another to feel so threatened by some of the male antics that you don't want to go back.
Several women have complained recently of sexual harassment at Defcon, prompting heated debate about sexism among a community responsible for much of the work into technology-related security offense and defense in the world. The loss of these attendees tips an already gender-imbalanced... [Read more]