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From Issue #24 August 29, 2013

Hacked Off

The hacker-activist community seems to leave no safe place for women. Can it grow up?

By Rosie J. Spinks Twitter icon 

Illustration by Amy Crehore.

When information activist Asher Wolf wrote her blog post “Dear Hacker Community, We Need to Talk,” she wasn’t feeling particularly levelheaded.

“If you look at my Twitter feed during that period,” Wolf says, “it involved me saying ‘f--- you’ over and over to male hackers in the community.”

Wolf, who describes herself as a citizen technologist and internaut, is the founder of CryptoParty, a privacy-education program that teaches people how to use cryptographic tools to secure their online communication. The platform, which was born from a casual Twitter exchange in late summer 2012, quickly went viral.

Despite being passionate about her work and pleased about CryptoParty’s success, Wolf was fed up. This wasn’t the first time she had noticed different treatment in the hacker space due to her gender. She’d already experienced a huge shift when she removed the gender ambiguity of her pseudonym, Asher Wolf, by changing her Twitter avatar to one with female attributes. But this marked the first time she’d acted on her disgust.

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