A Gender Analysis of Cyber War
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CitationKing-Close, Alexandria Marie. 2016. A Gender Analysis of Cyber War. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis thesis is a gender analysis of cyber war. Cyber war is a relatively recent domain within the context of international conflict. Thus far, neither a gender analysis of cyber warfare, nor of those who carry out cyber warfare—in other words cyber warriors, seems to have yet been conducted. Though existing literature discusses many other aspects of cyber war, it lacks any significant focus on gender analysis or gender perspective, if it mentions gender aspects at all. Furthermore, little analysis seems to have been conducted around cyber warriors themselves. This analysis evaluates existing literature about cyber war, gender and technology, and gender and war; and cyber warriors themselves, including official United States government leadership and cyber war workforce; and cyber warriors of other states, with focus on those of Russia and China.
Overall, this gender analysis concludes that the cyber war landscape holds positive potential for evolving into a fairly gender-equal environment. Interestingly, cyber war appears to hold this potential particularly more promisingly than do the kinetic warfare or technology sectors. Previous academic discourse would lead one to believe that cyber war is considerably biased toward hegemonic masculinity. However, significant initiatives in cyber war leadership, particularly by the U.S. military cyber war community, reveal convincing evidence of efforts to improve inclusion among the cyber warrior workforce that hold promising potential for the future of gender and cyber war. Given that the U.S. military is largely considered to be the world leader in the cyber war arena, its leadership in initiating policies moving gender equality forward—rather than enabling it to stay static or even fall backward toward digression, holds potential for impacting cyber war cultural shifts worldwide.
Furthermore, several aspects about working in cyber war may counteract some of the barriers that have deterred women and other minority groups from pursuing roles relating to warfare in other domains, and also in technology. Cyber war may not only lend itself to a more diverse workforce than traditional war and technology have tended to attract, but its resulting more diverse workforce holds potential to bring innovative wartime strategic thinking to the forefront, and also to the technology sector. Cyber war has been identified by many as a new wartime domain requiring new ways of thinking about war and technology. Significantly, cyber war may itself bring a fresh perspective to both the technology sector and wartime mindsets, opening new opportunities for innovation and creative problem solving.
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