Cybersecurity Needs to Do More Than Preach to the Diversity Choir

Lessons I learned from two summers at Hacker Summer Camp

Published in
5 min readAug 26, 2019


Photos courtesy of the author.

It was a week out from DEF CON 27, and I was a bundle of nerves.

I’d been to DEF CON before, but this year, I had my own community that I was excited to see and my own set of responsibilities at Hacker Summer Camp, an affectionate name for a series of hacker conferences all occurring in the same city during the same week.

I had been invited to speak on three panels during Camp week. One panel on diversity and inclusion for BSides Las Vegas, one on raising awareness for women’s resources for The Diana Initiative, and one on leadership and career advice for Women in Security and Privacy (WISP). I was also a lead for the 2019 scholars of WISP DEF CON, which comes with its own set of responsibilities. On top of those commitments, I wanted to attend BSidesLV, Black Hat, DEF CON, and The Diana Initiative, which were all occurring during the same week.

I navigated through the conference in total and complete awe of everything.

Last year, my first year at DEF CON, I attended on scholarship from WISP. Though not new to the industry, I was definitely new to the security community and what it had to offer. I had just accepted my first position as the sole security analyst for a retail company, which is a cute way of saying I ran security for the entire retail company. DEF CON was a conference I had wanted to attend since I first heard about it in 2014. I mean, the idea of mingling with hackers of all hats made my baby techie heart flutter.

I navigated through the conference in total and complete awe of everything. Me, a new friend, and my summer camp roommate, who was also a fellow scholar, spent the whole conference experiencing as much as humanly possible. We were exposed to new things like Capture the Flags (CTFs) and an inclusive conference with more technical women in one room than I had seen my whole career. I left DEF CON both energized and hopeful that the next year would be bigger, better, and more fun than the last.