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Houston Security Conference: Removing the Diversity Defects in Hacking

posted Aug 26, 2014, 10:54 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Sep 4, 2014, 8:06 AM ]
I submitted the following proposal for the Houston Security Conference that will take place on Thursday, October 16, 2014. I haven't heard back from the conference so it may have been rejected, but I wanted to share it with my readers. Here is the text of my proposal:

SPEAKER NAME:  Anjuan Simmons

Anjuan Simmons is a technologist with a successful track record of delivering technology solutions from the user interface to the database. He is currently a software project manager at a leading construction software manufacturer, and he has previously worked as a technology executive for Infosys, Accenture, and Deloitte, all multi-billion dollar technology services companies with hundreds of clients around the world. 

Anjuan has provided security audits for enterprise software systems from Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Microsoft. He has also designed and implemented the security modules for Oracle CRM.

Anjuan is the author of Minority Tech: Journaling Through Blackness and Technology which chronicles his experiences as an African-American in technology. His book makes the case for greater diversity in technology.


PRESENTATION TITLE: Removing the Diversity Defects in Hacking

Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo released data showing that technology lacks diversity. This talk will cover defects in hacker culture and discuss how to debug diversity and build better tech.


Hackers, like most of the people who will work in the technology field, are overwhelmingly white and male. This is obvious at technology conferences like this one where looking at the pictures and videos of the houstonseccon website reveals a handful of women and only one Black person (volunteer Sam Denard who introduced Jason Brvenik). Some say that technology is a meritocracy and people of color and women don't work in the field because they simply don't want to. The hacking community and technology companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, and LinkedIn (all of whom revealed their diversity numbers this year) insist that the technology sector would be more diverse if women and minorities simply invested in the computer science degrees needed to be enter the field. However, this "Pipeline Problem" explanation ignores the fact that the language and culture of hacking (and the overall technology field) contain defects that keep women and minorities out of technology and shorten the tenure of those who are already on the inside. These defects limit the vital innovation needed to have a healthy ecosystem of hackers and a vibrant technology sector.

Notable Minority Hackers
* John Lee (aka John Threat/Corrupt/Crispus Attucks)
* Raven Adler
* Kristina Vladimirovna Svechinskaya
* Xiao Tian

Diversity Defects in the Language of Hacking
* Black = Bad / White = Good
* Master/slave terminology in technology
* Alpha Male Syndrome

Diversity Defects in the Culture of Hacking
* DDOS Attacks Against Women
  * Adria Richards
  * Shanley Kane
* Women in Gaming
 * Zoe Quinn
 * Anita Sarkeesian
* Hacking Hip Hop Sites

* Gender Diversity Leads to Innovative Solutions
* Racial Diversity Leads to Better Solutions

* Be Aware
* Improve the Culture
* Be an Ally

UPDATE (09/04/2014): I just received the following response about my submission:

Thank you for taking the time to submit your topic to the HouSecCon presenter selection committee! Unfortunately, we had a great amount of submittals and not enough speaker tracks to accommodate them, which includes your topic. L The committee felt like this topic is extremely important to the industry and needs to be discussed. However, with the limited amount of time and speaking slots available, it did not seem to fit in this venue.


The HouSecCon founder will be reaching out to you personally to discuss this topic.


We greatly appreciate the effort and hope to see you in attendance this year, anyway.




Your HouSecCon Presenter Selection Committee