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Supporting those who protect us

Harassment in IT security has been an issue for a long time. At last, an organisation is trying to do something to stop it.

The research project has been such a valuable tool, both for giving us the confidence to proceed and for bringing funders on-board. As a relatively young, small charity, market research at this scale is not something we’d engaged in before, but the insights delivered means we’re definitely considering it for future initiatives.

Louise Goulden
Founder & CEO
The Together Project

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Earlier this year, we worked with Respect in Security to research the extent and awareness of harassment in the cybersecurity industry. Respect in Security’s initiative was launched in July this year with the goal of tackling both online and in-person harassment in this industry, and to encourage organisations to formally pledge to end harassment in their workplaces.  

302 cybersecurity professionals were surveyed to shed light on the issue – of which, we discovered, over a third had personally experienced in-person harassment. 

Harassment in IT security has been an issue for a long time: Vice’s Motherboard reported on sexual harassment at US security and hacking conferences in 2016, noting the difficulty of reporting incidents and thus measuring the extent of the problem. Of our UK respondents, 36% of those who had experienced offline harassment said that it took place at industry events.  

More recently – July this year – a female cybersecurity professional was harassed on Twitter after posting a photo of herself in a bikini, which was followed by a wave of support from fellow cybersecurity professionals posting photos in solidarity. Respect in Security’s co-founder, Marc Averymentions this incident in Teiss, illuminating both the need for the initiative and the brighter side of the story: that with awareness, the community rallies against abuse and harassment.  

Respect in Security’s launch, and the findings, were reported on many websites, including Forbes and the BBC. As of November, dozens of organisations have already signed the pledge – already exceeding their goal of 50 by the end of this year. And Respect in Security has big plans for the future: an advisory board with members from all over the world and public community sessions for feedback and discussion. 

It’s been a pleasure for us to be a part of the beginning of this important initiative, and we hope to see them go far!