Multilateral Cyber Negotiations and Gender Mainstreaming: A Complicated Relationship

By Liliya Khasanova

The protests in Iran in the name of Mahsa Amini are one of many examples of how the advancement of technology enables us to speak up, spread the word, and learn about human rights violations. Online anonymity and, therefore, reduced accountability for gender-based violence affects the vulnerability of individuals. There is no doubt now that the internet has become the most consequential communication technology of the human rights era.

Despite the technical universalism that technology grants us, there is a strong pushback on conceptual universalism in human rights in cyberspace, including gender issues. In multilateral settings, the efforts of states to regulate malicious state operations have been underpinned by cybersecurity concerns, with little attention paid to human rights protection. The gender dimension, if at all represented, is mainly in the norms of capacity-building and gender parity, avoiding direct referrals to gender equality and women’s rights.

Multilateral Forums under UN Auspices

Until 2021, two main forums had a mandate to discuss norms and rules on cybersecurity: the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) (work completed in May 2021) and the UN Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) (mandate renewed 2021-2025). One of the main achievements of the GGE was an adoption of a consensus that international law applies to cyber operations (2013). However, how it applies is still very much contested. The complexity of cyberspace as a domain raises several contested issues among states on the definition of sovereignty, attribution of cyber-attacks, the applicability of international humanitarian law, due diligence, etc. The differences between the GGE and OEWG process lay in the nature and number of stakeholders included in the discussion: the latter includes all the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) members as well as non-governmental actors, as compared to experts from 25 states working in their personal capacity in the GGE. In a certain sense, continuing the mandate of the OEWG was a step intended to mitigate the risk of functional and geographical fragmentation of international law. In 2022, negotiations also began in the new UN ad hoc committee on cybercrime that is tasked with drafting a new cybercrime convention.

(Anti)gender Discourse in Cybersecurity Negotiations 

After analysing all the reports adopted by GGE and OEWG, documents of the preparatory process, and official commentaries of states, several observations can be made regarding the Women, Peace, and Security agenda and gender discourse in cyber security negotiations.

Firstly, openness and “multistakeholderism”, i.e. bringing multiple stakeholders together to participate in dialogue and implementation of responses, of the OEWG (as opposed to GGE) resulted in more gender-related remarks in preparatory work and, consequently, in the reports. As an example, an introduction to the latest 2021 OEWG report states:

“The OEWG welcomes the high level of participation of women delegates in its sessions and the prominence of gender perspectives in its discussions. The OEWG underscores the importance of narrowing the “gender digital divide” and of promoting the effective and meaningful participation and leadership of women in decision-making processes related to the use of ICTs in the context of international security.”

To be fair, the gender parity of delegates, both within the teams and among delegation leaders, is improving yearly. Around 38% of all the delegates to the last OEWG sessions were women, which is relatively high compared to other forums.

However, when it comes to gender mainstreaming in the sense of assessing and addressing the implications of information and telecommunication technologies (ICT) for girls, boys, men, women, and non-binary people, the multilateral forums lack consensus. For instance, out of four paragraphs that contained gender issues in the initial draft reports, only one (paragraph 56) that touches upon gender-sensitive capacity building could survive the opposition and was included in the final text of the 2021 OEWG report. Two others–the reference to gender-centred implications of malicious use of ICT and the concluding statement on the need to mainstream gender considerations in the implementation of norm–were cut out from the final text.

Despite the outstanding advocacy work by international human rights and women organizations represented at the negotiation forums, the pushback against gender discourse is persistent and strong. Today, in 2022, in a multilateral setting where states are the main decision-makers, there are still official positions that follow the mantra of a traditional, state-centric, and non-inclusive understanding of international peace and security. Russia, which is playing an active role in OEWG deliberations, affirmed in one of its official statements that “references to the problems of sustainable development, human rights and gender equality, which fall under the competence of other UN bodies, look inappropriate and are not directly related to the problem of ensuring international peace and security” [emphasis added]. To be fair, Russia formulated a position that is shared with most of the countries in the Middle East and some Asian, African and Latin American countries.

Cybersecurity multilateral negotiations are not unique in this sense. The issue is rooted in deep opposition to ‘gender ideology’ –the discourse(s) on gender equality and women’s rights, and especially the discourse(s) on sexual orientation and gender identity. It cannot be seen separately from the policy and governance narratives that became dominant in several countries in the past years: the rollback of women’s rights, gender equality, and perception of gender. For example, in Russia the state-sponsored anti-LGBTQ+ campaign culminated in the 2013 “anti-propaganda law” banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to children and to the general public starting from December 1, 2022.[1] Eventually, the amendments to the Russian constitution in 2020 added a definition of marriage as “a relationship between one man and one woman,” which explicitly outlawed same-sex marriage.[2] Most of the Middle Eastern nations recently outlawed same-sex intimacy directly, punishing it with everything from fines to prison and, in Saudi Arabia, to the death penalty. Thus, this pushback on gender ideology, originating from national discourses, can be seen in rule-making procedures internationally.

The multilateral cyber negotiation scene under UN auspices is complicated nowadays with geopolitical tensions and competing interests and reflects the general crisis penetrating the international legal orderThe rise in recent years of civilizational, cultural, and ideological confrontation set within the human rights agenda is reflected not only in official positions and approaches, but also in normative proposals in the OEWG and UNGA on cyber matters.

In such circumstances, the role of civil society and its contribution is critical in using a “humanitarian” agenda to persistently push back against an archaeal understanding of international security. Amidst geopolitical disputes, the deepening cleavages between western countries and Russia and China heavily influence the participation of certain stakeholders in meetings. In July 2022, during the first OEWG meeting, 27 NGOs were blocked from participation by Russia, after which some of the Russian NGOs were blocked by Ukraine in retaliation.[3] Harmonizing and aligning strategies and enhancing cooperation between stakeholders could help overcome the increasing geopolitical pressure that civil society organizations experience nowadays in cyber negotiation forums.

To work against the effects of these and other efforts to repress international attempts at advancing a gender equality agenda, effective gender mainstreaming is possible only when gender research is less fragmented and supported by rigorous data collection practices. Partially, the strong transnational opposition against “gender ideology” comes from the misconception of the notion of “gender (identity).” This leads to a broad delegitimization of scientific knowledge on gender as such. “Gender” becomes a red flag even where it is not necessarily a contested concept. Acknowledging and defining this disagreement might help avoid the broad hostility toward everything related to gender. Highlighting and respecting cultural and religious traditions and perceptions while conducting detailed and concise research on gender and cyber can help focus on the “humane” component rather than ideological confrontation.

The opinions expressed here are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Women In International Security or its affiliates


[1] Russian Federation, Federal Law No. 135-FZ of 2013, on Amendments to Article 5 of the Federal Law “On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development;” Russian Federation, Federal Law No. 478-FZ of 05.12. 2022. on Amendments to the Federal Law on “Information, information technologies and security of information” and other legislative acts of Russian Federation.”

[2] Constitution of the Russian Federation as amended and approved by the All-Russian vote on July 1, 2020 [working translation]

[3] Hurel, Louise Marie, “The Rocky Road to Cyber Norms at the United Nations”, Council on Foreign Relations, September 6, 2022,

Dr. Karin L. Johnston


Achieving gender equality is central to the values and aims of the European Union (EU). Advancing human rights and preserving democracy and the rule of law is embedded in the EU’s foundational treaties and in subsequent conventions, strategies, and action plans. In 2019, the EU witnessed the election of its first female president, Ursula von der Leyen, who has made gender equality and gender mainstreaming a top priority. In 2020, the EU extended its institutional commitment to gender equality, via its first Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 and its external relations, through the EU’s third Gender Action Plan (GAP III), which embodies UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda to reduce violence against women and ensure women’s participation in peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts. Institutionally, the EU’s work on gender equality and women’s empowerment falls under the European Commission’s remit, while the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service, is tasked with implementing GAP III.

This policy brief examines these EU moves to carry out its Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 and GAP III. It focuses on gender equality and gender mainstreaming in EU institutions and in the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). While the EU has made significant strides, its achievements have been unevenly distributed and implemented, both in terms of geographic distribution and in issue domains, particularly in the foreign and security policy arenas. The practical question is therefore what can be done to create greater momentum towards achieving greater gains in gender equality? The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardships have been devastating, especially for women, children, and other vulnerable populations. Leaders in all countries face difficult policy choices, and some countries have used the pandemic to reverse gains in human rights and gender equality. The EU is recognized and respected for its leadership and commitment to human rights and democracy, and so it is particularly important for the EU to continue its gender equality agenda both within and beyond its borders.

Gender Equality in the EU: Representation and Participation

Gender equality is enshrined in the EU’s foundational documents, whereby “In all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality between men and women.”1 Early efforts at gender equality targeted socio-economic inequalities such as “equal pay for equal work” and labor market access.2 It was a gradual and functionalist progression, from wages and employment to areas of social and economic policy and other areas of gender inequality.3 In the 1990s, the EU’s commitment to gender mainstreaming provided the drive to integrate gender into the development field and then into the EU’s external actions and its peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts.

Although the EU has shown strong commitment to gender equality, developments have been uneven across member states and issue domains. The EU’s European Institute for Gender Equality’s annual Gender Equality Index catalogues gender gaps over time using a scale of 1 (total inequality) to 100 (full equality) measured in six domains: work, money, knowledge, time, (political) power, and health.4 Accordingly, gender equality in the EU has reached 67.9 points, but progress across the EU has varied considerably, from Sweden (83.6) and Denmark (77.5) to Hungary (51.9) and Greece (51.2). Although the political power measurement has seen the most improvement since 2005, moving 11.6 points since 2020, its score remains the lowest overall (53.5 points) of the six domains.5 It is thus in the realm of representation and access to political power where gender inequalities are especially pronounced.6 More discouraging is the report’s observation that the level of power improvement drove the overall increase in the Index score—obscuring the absence of real gains in the other domains.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 only reinforces the need to address the problem of representation. Of the four subindices the report uses to measure performance—health and survival, education, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment— the political empowerment subindex lags by an astonishing margin. The gender gap has nearly closed in health and survival (96%) and education (95%), while economic participation stands at 58%. However, political empowerment only reaches 22%—a drop of 2.4% from 2020. These sobering numbers show why efforts to increase women’s participation in the political field must be intensified.

The record isn’t much better in terms of women’s representation and participation in EU agencies. The numbers of women presidents and prime ministers among European countries remain disappointing. Though more women were elected heads of state between 2003 and 2018, the number never rose above 14%.7 Today, only four of the 27 heads of state or government are women, from Germany, Estonia, Denmark, and Finland—and soon to be three, since German Chancellor Angela Merkel will soon be replaced by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz. Five EU member states have women defense ministers (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain), and in the 47 states represented in the Council of Europe, only nine women serve as foreign minister (Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Lichtenstein, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom).

The most important change, however, has occurred within the EU at the highest level of leadership, where for the first time in its history a woman now serves as President of the European Commission. Having assumed her duties on December 1, 2019, Ursula von der Leyen leads the institutional body that exercises executive power in the EU and that represents the interests of the EU on the international stage. Von der Leyen announced that gender equality would be one of her top priorities, enshrined within the new EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025.8 She declared her intention to implement new anti-discrimination legislation, introduce pay transparency measures, establish quotas for gender balance on company boards, and achieve gender parity in EU institutions, starting with her own College of Commissioners.9 Von der

EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025
End gender-based violenceChallenge gender stereotypes Close inequalities in labor markets Achieve equal participation across economic sectors Address the gender pay and pension gaps Close the gender care gap Achieve gender balance in decision-making and  in politics

Leyen succeeded in her goal of a gender-balanced College of Commissioners, which is now made up of 13 women and 14 men, though many of the portfolios women hold are more traditionally “female.”10 In the Gender Equality Strategy, von der Leyen is committed to achieving more women in decisionmaking roles and to 50%-50% gender balance at all levels of EU management by 2024. The challenge is especially vital in the field of foreign and security policy: in an October 2020 statement, the European Parliament noted that women hold 40% of the positions in the Commission but only 31.3% of middle-management positions and 26% of senior management positions in the European External Action Service (EEAS), the diplomatic arm of the EU.11

One of the EU’s most powerful commissioners is Margrethe Vestager. As the EU’s commissioner for competition, she has taken on Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. In September 2019, Vestager was elected to an unprecedented second term as the EU’s competition commissioner and, in President von der Leyen’s newly reorganized Commission, acquired a second portfolio as “Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age.”12 Thus, not only will Vestager continue to oversee the EU’s competition rules, she will supervise the EU’s overarching cybersecurity, industrial, and big data policies, coordinate the EU’s position on the taxation of digital companies, and have a hand in shaping a White Paper on artificial intelligence, a data strategy, and a common position of the risks linked to 5G networks. This is a powerful platform for decisions that will have a significant impact in shaping regulatory, technological, and trade and market rules and regulations in Europe and across the globe.

In the European Parliament, the record on gender equality is encouraging but, as in so many other issues, the devil is in the details. EU statistics show the number of women members of the European Parliament has risen from a low of 16.6% in 1979 to the current 38.9%—about the world average but still far from full equality. Once again, the differences are highly variable, by member state and party affiliation. The number of female members in the European Parliament by member state range from a high of 57.1% in Finland to 18.2% in Romania and no women at all for Cyprus.13 In terms of its parliamentary parties, gender equality is highest in the European centerleft, led by the Greens with 48.3% women, followed by other center-left political parties. Parties of the far-right lag far behind, ranging between 32.3 to 39.7%.14

The rise of right-wing populist parties that have weakened democratic institutions and governments across Europe has seen gender and women’s rights come under sustained attack, notably in Poland and Hungary.15 In November 2020, both states strongly objected to the GAP III draft promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU foreign and security policy and to protecting LGBTQ+ rights, despite gender equality and human rights protections being enshrined in EU treaty and basic EU law. These two governments also targeted gender equality. In July 2021, they lobbied to remove the term “gender equality” from a draft declaration to improve social cohesion.16 That same month, the European Commission took legal action against Hungary and Poland for what it deemed were violations of EU laws regarding non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation—against Hungary for passing an anti-LGBTQ+ law and against some communities in Poland that declared themselves “LGTBQ-free” zones.17

Finally, women are underrepresented in EU parliamentary committees and in ministerial portfolios. Only 35.2% of women lead EU parliamentary committees, and the gap is particularly evident in committees responsible for external affairs. Revealingly, women tended not to receive the highprofile portfolios but the “softer issue” socio-cultural portfolios of education, family and children, and health. In parliamentary committees focused on external affairs, representation ranges from 46% in the areas of international trade and development to 31% in foreign affairs and only 20% in the security and defense field.18

Studies of the EU’s track record on gender equality point to longstanding institutional and socio-cultural obstacles that continue to impede advancement toward full gender equality: the ongoing struggle for gender equality in middle and senior management in EU institutions (“think leader, think male”); work-life balance; a closed system of advancement; lack of political leadership and political will; poor implementation and weak enforcement mechanisms on legislation; insufficient resources and staffing; and little support for gender mainstreaming across EU institutions and issue areas.19 More difficult to address are the differences among member states in social and cultural norms and attitudes about gender that contribute to an “adoption-implementation gap” on gender equality issues within the EU.20

European Court of Auditors: Gender
Mainstreaming Recommendations
Strengthen EU institutional frameworkConduct gender analysisCollect and analyze sex-aggregated dataUse gender-related objectives/indicatorsImprove reporting on gender equalityAssess and report on whether resilience and recovery plans contribute to gender equality.

Multiple studies have concluded that implementation of existing gender equality and gender mainstreaming legislation remains a core problem, and hence many recommendations have an institutional focus. To address gaps in representation, for example, observers call for the EU to ensure genderneutral job descriptions and revise family and leave policy to address work-life balance. Other recommendations point to the need for better monitoring and evaluation and assessment systems, gender-disaggregated data, and better training at managerial levels to accelerate shifts in institutionalized structures of implicit bias and bureaucratic cultures. Deficits in the EU budget process are problematic, too. A 2021 EU auditing report concluded the EU failed to incorporate gender mainstreaming into the EU budget across the seven budget headings and thus failed to “live up to its commitment.”21 It calls for the Commission itself to comply with directives to integrate gender mainstreaming into the budget process and commit funding for gender-based initiatives.

Gender Equality in CSDP: Representation and Participation

The commitment to gender mainstreaming in EU institutions in the 1990s also expanded into the EU’s external relations, first to development aid and then to foreign and security policy, with UNSCR 1325 and the international WPS agenda providing important points of reference. But efforts to formalize gender mainstreaming in the EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) were not immediately successful. The “watershed” moment for the integration of the WPS agenda into EU foreign and security policy occurred in 2008 with the adoption of the “Comprehensive Approach on Women, Peace and Security” for EU implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820.22 Starting in 2010, the EU introduced three successive gender action plans (GAP) that provide a framework for the European Commission and the EEAS to advance gender equality and empowerment in its external


Value of Gender Equality Measurers in Missions
Effectiveness at the Tactical, Operational, and  Strategic Levels Secures access to groups and areas where male counterparts cannotEnhances situational awarenessCollects intelligence that helps challenge existing assumptionsHelps gain local trust in missionDemonstrates diversity benefits decision-making processesContributes to better work environment, more collaborative work dynamicsStrengthens credibility with host nationDemonstrated commitment strengthens EU legitimacyHelps overcome gender stereotypes within mission and outside mission.

Documents such as the 2015 Council Conclusion on CSDP and the EEAS EU Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) 2019-2024 continue to support the promotion of gender mainstreaming and a stronger role for women in peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts as well as all EU military and civilian missions.24 As of late 2021, the EU deployed seven military missions and 11 civilian missions in Europe, Africa, and Asia, with a combined strength of 5,000 personnel.25 Their stated objectives include conflict prevention, peacekeeping, strengthening international security and rule of law, and the prevention of human trafficking and piracy.26 Of the seven current military missions, four are training missions (Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Mozambique) and three are military operations with an executive mandate (Bosnia-Herzegovina and two naval force operations off the Somali coast and in the Mediterranean).

Several studies on gender representation in EU military missions show there is a steep hill to climb. A 2018 SIPRI study of EU missions conducted between 2008 and 2017 noted that female personnel numbers varied considerably both in numbers and in missions, ranging between 5.3 to 8.4% for 2013-2017.27 Explaining such variation is difficult; some surmise it is related to the conflict intensity of the mission,28 but the lack of gender-disaggregated data seriously limits the conclusions that can be drawn with any degree of certainty.29 The proportion of female personnel did increase from 3.6% to 7.8%, but the available data lack sufficient detail to draw specific conclusions about gender and the impact of women on mission effectiveness.30

In response to the growing demand for more civilian mission capabilities, in November 2018 EU member states established the Civilian Common Security and Defense Policy Compact to strengthen civilian missions.31 Given this demand for civilian personnel, one might be tempted to assume that EU efforts at gender mainstreaming in civilian missions have advanced faster, but the EU’s record is mixed at best. The number of civilian women personnel (which includes uniformed police and non-uniformed civilian personnel) rose from 11.3% to 22.8% between 2008 and 2017. Within that number, researchers estimated that women police averaged around 10%.32 The numbers fluctuated significantly but they did increase in relative terms, though not in absolute terms, from 46 in 2008 to over 400 by mid-2010, before declining from 423 to 260 between 2013-2017. Although the data show the gender balance improving, they also show the number of male personnel falling sharply between 2011-2017, due mostly to scaling down of mission size. Thus, no actual increase in female personnel in civilian missions was observable.

Several factors influence the rate of female civilian personnel in EU missions. One is the CSDP recruitment system. Uniformed personnel, both military and civilian police, are deployed or seconded by member state governments, and governments also nominate the “seconded” civilian personnel. Not all governments are committed to full gender equality, and these attitudes impact on the number of qualified women who make it through the selection process. The remaining personnel are “international contracted” personnel recruited by the EEAS, an organization that itself has been criticized for its “add women and stir” approach to gender mainstreaming and poor hiring record, particularly in middle and top management positions.33 The SIPRI study also highlights one of the most consistent criticisms of military and civilian CSDP missions: the significant lack of EU gender-disaggregated data. For example, the authors reported that for the period 20062017, they were unable to find statistics on the representation of women in military operations.34

Despite some progress, the general conclusions of the 2017 parliamentary evaluation of women in CSDP missions remain valid today: “measuring the impact of women’s participation in CSDP missions and operations is challenging because of the relatively small number of women in CSDP and the overall lack of statistical data on their positions within the organizations.”35

As with gender equality generally, the reasons why so few women are deployed are familiar: attitudes and prejudices (soldiering is not a woman’s job, not physically capable), work-life balance, recruitment and retention policies, institutionalized constraints (gendered job descriptions), funding problems, under-representation, and lack of top leadership support.36 CSDP missions must also compete for personnel and funds against demands from other organizations, both internally

(FRONTEX, the EU’s border control agency) and externally (UN, OSCE, NATO). For military missions, inadequate training in gender mainstreaming can have deleterious effects: with training devoid of evidence of tangible strategic, tactical, and operational advantages of including women, planners may miss the relevance of gender mainstreaming and thus fail to utilize female personnel in ways that advance mission objectives. Especially relevant for CSDP missions and operations are calls for changes in the recruitment system, more deployed gender advisors, and the need for genderdisaggregated data collection.

Calls for institutional reform within the EEAS are also strong, including changing recruitment policies to address personnel deficits and promoting more women in middle and top management.37 The European Parliament’s report on gender equality in the EU’s foreign and defense policy was critical of the ongoing underperformance of the EEAS in meeting gender equality targets and, in particular, its inability to produce specific and measurable objectives to meet those targets, the lack of diversity, the lack of gender-responsive recruitment procedures, and absence of genuine genderresponsive leadership.38


The EU’s priorities in advancing gender equality have focused on helping close the gender pay gap and gaps in employment and pensions; expanding women’s representation and participation in decision-making; addressing gender-based violence; and promoting gender equality and women’s rights both within and outside of the EU. The EU’s Gender Equality Strategy, the Common Approach to WPS, and the new GAP III all demonstrate a strong institutional commitment to gender equality and gender mainstreaming.

The greatest obstacle, however, lies in the implementation of existing frameworks to realize their aims. A persistent gap exists between institutional statements and actual implementation of the EU’s framework for advancing gender equality and gender mainstreaming, which is still often seen as an “add-on” rather than a framework and guide for transformational change. Such change is required in the EU’s internal activities as well as its external foreign and security policies. Importantly, EU officials must also clearly convey to member states that gender equality and gender mainstreaming are core EU strategic aims. It is unclear where the EU’s recent legal actions against Poland and Hungary will lead, but such challenges to liberal democracy and the rule of law are also existential challenges for the EU and must be resolved in ways that uphold EU values, norms, laws, and way of life.

Fortunately, recommendations for implementing constructive reforms exist, which focus on concrete and binding objectives. Internally, the EU can:

  • Change institutional processes and policies such as promotion policies, job descriptions and requirements, and advancement opportunities;
  • Adjust training and curricula programs to maximize mainstreaming gender throughout the cycle of respective areas of competence;
  • Address work-life balance policies, taking onboard lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Implement the recommendations made by the European Court of Auditors to incorporate gender mainstreaming into the EU budget—and evaluate and monitor the progress. Externally, the EU can address shortfalls in its gender equality strategy by acting to:
  • Improve the EEAS’ poor record on gender recruitment by altering job descriptions and promoting gender equality in institutions that serve as pool for candidates, e.g., border police, law enforcement, and ministries of justice, defense, and interior;
  • Increase retention by establishing gender-responsive recruitment procedures, making family policies gender sensitive, altering promotion procedures, eliminating the pay gap, and improving work-life balance;
  • Reinforce leadership’s commitment to gender equality by eliminating toxic masculine environments;
  • Mandate gender equality training for all middle and senior EEAS management, head of mission and commanders of CSDP missions and operations, and including female trainers in mixed training teams, as well as role modeling in training;
  • Collect comprehensive gender-aggregated data on CSDP missions to enable evidence-based assessments of the impact of gender inclusion for mission success;
  • Ensure all military CSDP missions include a gender advisor, as already occurs in civilian missions.

Effective implementation of these recommendations requires the EU to “lead by example.” Strong leadership, in turn, depends on finding the political will to transform the EU’s culture and institutional structures that impede gender mainstreaming. One of the many challenges EU President von der Leyen faces is obtaining broader support among EU member states to prioritize policies that encourage gender mainstreaming in EU institutions and policies. This is a difficult task, especially in the security and defense arena, and while the current COVID-19 crisis and economic recession have put considerable pressure on EU resources. But these constraints do not justify rejecting these recommendations for gender equality, most of which can be enacted without significant expenditure. Indeed, times of crisis are the best time to lead by example.


  1. See Articles 8 and 19 of the Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 2016, legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF n/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN; Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on the European Union (1992) (principle of equality between men and women), html?uri=cellar:2bf140bf-a3f8-4ab2-b506-fd71826e6da6.0023.02/ DOC_1&format=PDF; and Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000) (wages and work), https://www.
  2. Article 119 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome—the foundational document of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union—established the principle of equal pay for equal work for the sexes. See “Promoting equality between men and women,” European Parliamentary Research Service, June 2019, p. 2, BRIE/2018/628272/EPRS_BRI(2018)628272_EN.pdf
  3. Maria Villellas, Pamela Urrutia, Ana Villellas, and Vincenc Fisas, Gender in EU Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Policy and Practice

(WOSCAP, 2016), p. 5, Study%20-%20Gender.pdf


  1. “Fostering gender equality in the EU’s foreign and security policy,” European Parliament press release, October 23 2020, https://www. Individual country data for 40 countries in the Women in Diplomacy Index 2021 show wide variations, but Sweden tops the list with 48.1% women ambassadors. The Nordic countries as a group also lead in the sample, with 40.6%. For the EU, however, the number of women ambassadors is only 23.4%, while the number for Europe as a whole is 27.2%. See Women in Diplomacy Index 2021 (Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, March 2021), pp. 1, 3,
  2. “Margrethe Vestager gets second term in EU competition job,” The Guardian, September 10, 2019, world/2019/sep/10/margrethe-vestager-gets-second-term-in-eu-competition-job
  3. “Women in politics in the EU,” p. 2.
  4. “Women are doing better in European politics, but still not well enough,” Euractiv, December 2, 2019, middle-ground-politics/news/women-are-doing-better-in-europeanpolitics-but-still-not-well-enough/; see also “Women in parliaments” at a glance infographic, European Parliament, February 2020, https:// ATA(2020)646189_EN.pdf
  5. Hans von der Burchard, “EU’s foreign policy gender plan faces resistance from Poland and Hungary,” Politico, November 25, 2020, https://
  6. Gabriela Baczynska, “Poland, Hungary push against ‘gender equality’ at EU social summit,” Reuters, May 7, 2021, world/europe/poland-hungary-push-against-gender-equality-eu-social-summit-2021-05-07/
  7. “EU sues Hungary and Poland over LGBTQ discrimination,” Deutsche Welle, July 15, 2021,
  8. “Women in politics in the EU,” p. 3; “Women are doing better;” and “Promoting Equality in Decision-Making,” 2019 Report on equality between women and men in the EU (European Commission, 2019), pp. 27-43. For further discussion see “Which European country has the most female politicians?” The Economist, May 3, 2019, graphic-detail/2019/05/03/which-european-country-has-the-most-female-politicians; “These countries have the most women in parliament,” World Economic Forum, February 12, 2019, agenda/2019/02/chart-of-the-day-these-countries-have-the-most-women-in-parliament/
  9. For example, the Gender Equality Strategy 2020 introduces a new initiative to address pay transparency but elsewhere addresses older, outstanding issues, such as ensuring 40% female representation on corporate boards (a pledge made in 2012) and pressuring the six member states that have refused to ratify the 2017 Istanbul Convention to prevent and combat violence against women. See “EU sets out plans for gender equality, Politico, March 5, 2020,; “Promoting equality among men and women;” and Gender Equality in Europe: what progress in 2019? (Fondation Robert Schuman, Policy Paper No. 505, March 2019). For an assessment of the lack of gender equality initiatives in the EU budget, see “Gender mainstreaming in the EU budget: time to turn words into action,” European Court of Auditors, May 2021, https://
  10. Ekaterina R. Rashkova, “Talking the talk, but not walking the walk: gender equality in Eastern Europe,” East European Politics, 33:2 (2017), pp. 309-315.
  11. “Gender mainstreaming in the EU budget,” p. 5; “An EU budget that works for women’s rights and equality between women and men,” European Women’s Lobby, 2019, p. 1, ewl_an_eu_budget_that_works_for_women_s_rights_and_equality_between_women_and_men_-_november_2019.pdf
  12. Heidi Riley, “Towards inclusivity in the EU’s approach to women, peace, and security,” GLOBUS, May 11, 2020, news/2020/eu-women-peace-security-riley.html; Jutta Joachim, Andrea Schneiker, Anne Jenichen, “External Networks and institutional idiosyncrasies: the Common Security and Defence Policy and UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 30:1 (2017), p. 111.
  13. Hannah Neumann, “More Women, More Peace: Opportunities at the EU level,”, April 22, 2020, more-women-more-peace-opportunities-at-the-eu-level
  14. “Council Conclusions on CSDP,” European Council, 2015, https://; Annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (European Parliament, January 20,

2021), paragraph 60,

TA-9-2021-0012_EN.pdf; EU Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) 2019-2024 (Council of the European Union, July 5, 2019), https://

December                   2017), STUD/2017/603855/EXPO_STU(2017)603855_EN.pdf

2018), 9__Civilian%20CSDP.pdf

  • Smit and Tidblad-Lundholm, Trends in Women’s Participation, p. 3.
  • Corinna Hörst, “A credible and accountable EU foreign service? Not yet,” EU Observer, March 11, 2020,; Laura Chappell and Roberta Guerrina, “Understanding the gender regime in the European External Action Service,” Cooperation and Conflict, 55:2 (2020), pp.261-280.
  • Chappell and Guerrina, “Understanding the gender regime,” p. 268.
  • “Women in CSDP Missions,” Directorate-General for External Policies, European Parliament, December 2017, p. 22, https://www. STU(2017)603855_EN.pdf
  • Irina Bratosin D’Almeida, Rebekka Haffner, Corinna Hörst, “Women in the CSDP: strengthening the EU’s effectiveness as an international player,” European View, 16 (2017), pp. 313-324.
  • For a study of the EEAS’ problems with institutionalized power structures and resistance to gender mainstreaming, see Chappell and Guerrina, “Understanding the gender regime.”
  • Report on Gender Equality in EU’s foreign and security policy (European Parliament, Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, August 3, 2020), p. 22, The report provides a comprehensive assessment and recommendations for the EU. For a criticism of the EEAS under Josep Borrell, see Hannah Neumann, “Borrell’s boys’ club dominates EU foreign policy,” Politico Europe, March 8, 2021, article/europe-diplomacy-gender-equality/

By Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Kayla McGill and Zi Xue

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) called for greater participation of women in peace and security decision-making processes and underscored the importance of incorporating a gender perspective when addressing international peace and security challenges. In November 2017, the US Congress adopted the Women, Peace and Security Act, which posited that “the United States should be a global leader in promoting the meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution, and post-conflict relief and recovery efforts.”1 While much progress has been made since 2000, the roles and numbers of women in foreign policy and security establishments remain underdeveloped, including in the United States. 

In 2018, Women In International Security (WIIS)—as part  of an effort to measure the gender disparities in the US foreign policy and security communities—surveyed 22 US foreign policy and international security think tanks.2 This scorecard provides an update to that survey. This scorecard also spotlights the nuclear security community—both as a subset  of the foreign policy and security community and as its  own community.3

Foreign policy and international security experts in the United States have taken renewed interest in issues related to greatpower competition, including nuclear security, arms control and disarmament issues. In addition, at both international and national levels, policymakers and non-governmental actors have recognized the lack of women in nuclear security, arms control and disarmament issues. For example,  the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2010 that urged UN member states to promote the equitable representation of women in the field of disarmament and to strengthen women’s effective participation.4 In 2018, the UN Secretary-General’s agenda for disarmament called for the full and equal participation of women in all decision-making processes related to disarmament and international security. The UN Secretary General also committed to gender parity on all panels, boards, expert groups and other bodies established under his auspices in the field of disarmament.5 These efforts are all part of the national and international commitments made under the  WPS agenda.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also undertaken a range of initiatives to raise awareness about the lack of women in the nuclear security, arms control and disarmament communities. For example, Article 36 (a UKbased NGO created in 2011) and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) have tracked women’s scant representation in multilateral disarmament fora.6 In November 2018, Laura Holgate, the former US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), launched the Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy (GCNP) initiative  to address gender imbalances in the field.7 As of July 2020, heads of 58 US and non-US organizations had committed to “breaking down barriers and making gender equity a working reality in their spheres of influence.”8 The International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group published a Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack in 2018 outlining what a gender perspective in arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament might look like.9 In 2019, New America examined the role of women in nuclear policy, including

how women navigated the nuclear security field and how gender diversity (or rather the lack thereof) affected US policymaking.10 The Ploughshares Fund committed $1 million to a Women’s Initiative Campaign in April 2019 to create greater gender diversity within the nuclear establishment.11

There is thus progress in the advancement of the role of women in nuclear security. That said, there is very little data with respect to the representation of women in the nuclear security arena.

This WIIS Gender Scorecard seeks to fill this void.

To assess how well women are integrated into this community, we examined the number of women experts working on nuclear security issues in US think tanks. We also examined the number of women writing on arms control and nuclear security issues and being published in academic and specialized journals. Think tanks and journals play an important role in shaping foreign and defense policies, including nuclear security policies. Indeed, in the United States members of think tanks frequently move in and out of many critical positions in government. Together with their colleagues in academia, they also participate in policy debates in the media and in writing for specialized academic journals.

In sum, this scorecard does three main things:

  • Scoring the Tanks. We assess the gender distribution in 32 think tanks in the United States—22 foreign policy and international security think tanks and 10 think tanks and programs that are more specifically focused on arms control and nuclear security policy. We also examine the extent to which gender has been integrated into programming.12
Table 1: Washington, DC Think Tanks with Women at the Helm 
Center for American Progress (CAP)Ms. Neera Tanden, President and CEO2011
German Marshall Fund (GMF)Dr. Karen Donfried, President2014
Heritage FoundationMs. Kay Coles James, President2017
New AmericaDr. Anne-Marie Slaugther, CEO2013
Wilson Center for International ScholarsMs. Jane Harman, President and CEO2011
Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms ControlMs. Valerie Lincy, Executive Director2012
  • Scoring the Journals. We review the gender distribution in 11 major international security journals and five major arms control and nuclear security journals. In addition, we examine to what extent gender perspectives are represented in the journals.
  • Bringing into Focus the Nuclear Security Community. We examine the gender distribution of nuclear security experts in 32 think tanks. In addition, we consider the gender distribution of articles on arms control and nuclear security issues in 11 major international security journals and  5 major arms control and nuclear security journals. We also examine to what extent gender perspectives are represented in arms control and nuclear security articles.

The Headlines

Despite some progress, the national and international security field, including the nuclear security field, remains a maledominated field.

  • The percentage of women leading think tanks has declined, from 32 percent in 2018 to 19 percent in 2020. 

(See Table 1)

  • The percentage of women on think tank governing boards has increased slightly, from 22 percent in 2018 to 

25 percent in 2020. (See Figure 1)

  • The percentage of women experts working on foreign policy, national and international security issues has increased, from 27 percent in 2018 to 35 percent in 2020.13

(See Figure 2)

The nuclear security community is small. The majority of arms control and nuclear experts work in specialized think tanks and publish in specialized journals.

  • Of the foreign policy and international security think tanks surveyed, only 10 percent of experts (3 percent women and 7 percent men) focus entirely or in part on nuclear issues.14

(See Figure 3)

  • There are 162 nuclear experts working in the specialized arms control and nuclear security think tanks and programs—49 (30 percent) are women.15

Despite renewed interest in nuclear security issues, the percentage of articles devoted to these issues remains small, and few have women authors.

  • In the international security journals only 9 percent of articles published between 2015 and 2019 were devoted to nuclear security. Only 15 percent of those articles were written by women. (See Figure 6.)
  • In the arms control and nuclear security journals, women wrote 17 percent of the articles on nuclear security issues.

Gender perspectives remain largely ignored in the national and international security, including the nuclear security, community.

  • Only one out of 32 think tanks has integrated gender into its programming.
  • In the academic and specialized literature, most articles with a “gender” perspective focused on women in the field—very few articles examined how gender (and notions of masculinity and femininity) shapes thinking about national and international security, including about  nuclear security.16

This scorecard shows that women in the international security field, including in the nuclear security field, remain severely underrepresented. The percentage of women experts and women authors remain well below the 60 percent of women enrolled for over a decade in graduate programs (master’s and doctoral programs) in the social and behavioral science (including political science and international relations); the over 55 percent of women students in the professional schools of international affairs; the 43 percent of women members of the International Studies Association (ISA); and the 38 percent of women members of the ISA’s  International Security Studies Section (ISSS).17

While this scorecard does not incorporate any qualitative interviews in the community, there have been a number of studies that examine how women experience the international security and nuclear security field. A 2019 survey of the members of the International Security Studies Section (ISSS) of the International Studies Association (ISA) showed considerable problems within the international security community, of which the nuclear security community is a subset. The survey showed that women were more likely to report hostility and exclusion and to describe the section as “insular,” “clubby” and an “old boys’ network.”18 In her 2019 study of women in the nuclear arms control and nonproliferation field, Heather Hurlburt talked about the “gender tax” that women in nuclear policy face. She shows “how experiences of sexism, harassment, and gendered expectations translate into constant mental and emotional weight.”19 A 2019 report about the nuclear security field, even though not focused on gender, showed that early and midcareer women professionals found the field rife with

The lack of gender diversity (including ethnic and racial diversity) and the small number of women experts have serious implications not only for the field itself, but also  for policy.21

One such implication is that a small group of mostly likeminded people monopolizes influence and shapes policies. The fact that the nuclear security field seems to live very much in its own bubble or ecosystem of think tanks and journals reinforces its insular nature. Only 10 percent of experts  (7 percent men and 3 percent women) in the think tanks focus on nuclear security issues. Most of the knowledge production and action on nuclear security happens in the specialized institutes and journals. Carol Cohn has written about how language, particularly in the nuclear sphere, kept women and different perspectives out.22 Michèle Flournoy has talked about how women had to fit into a “consensual straitjacket” in the nuclear policy sphere.23 Many early and midcareer professionals in this community defined the field as “old (in terms of both age and ideas) and static.” 24  “Most of the people who work in this field have been doing the same thing for  30 years, and their thinking has not evolved at all, especially in arms control. It’s the dogma. This community … hasn’t evolved with changes in the security environment.”25

Scoring the Tanks

The scorecard reviews think tanks along five main axes:

  • Gender distribution of those who lead think tanks;
  • Gender distribution of governing boards of the think tanks;
  • Gender distribution of experts in the tanks’ foreign policy and international security programs;
  • Gender distribution of experts focusing on nuclear security issues;
  • Level of commitment to gender and/or women’s programming.

Heads of Think Tanks

Of the 32 think tanks surveyed, women lead only six  (19 percent). (See Table 1)

Of the 22 foreign policy and international security think tanks, women lead only five (23 percent): The Center for American Progress (CAP), the German Marshall Fund (GMF), the

Heritage Foundation, New America, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. Compared with 2018, this is a decrease.26

Of the 10 arms control and nuclear security think tanks and programs, a woman heads one: the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

sexism and gender discrimination.20

Figure 1: Gender Ratio – Think Tank Governing Boards                    Governing Boards

2018 and 2020  

The gender gap remains stark at the level of the governing 2018   boards. The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

• MENWOMEN            is the only institution that has achieved parity on its governing board. It is followed by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS),

which has 44 percent women on its governing board.

On average, the percentage of women members of the board  of directors or trustees is 25 percent, compared with 23 percent in 2018. (See Figure 1) The specialized arms control and

nuclear institutes do a little better, with 31 percent of women

                                     2020                                                                on their boards.


                                 • WOMEN                                                    Experts

Compared with 2018, the overall gender balance in the think tanks has improved, from 27 percent of women experts in  2018 to 35 percent in 2020. (See Figure 2)27 That said, very few think tanks have achieved parity. There is also great variation among the think tanks. (See Table 2 and Figure 4. See also the


Figure 2: Gender Ratio – Foreign Policy and National and International Security Experts in Think Tanks 2018 and 2020  Nuclear Experts


                           ••  MENWOMEN                                     Of the 20 foreign policy and international security think tanks 28

surveyed, only 10 percent of experts (3 percent women and 

7 percent men) focus entirely or in part on nuclear issues. (See Figure 3)

The gender distribution within this group of nuclear experts is slightly lower than the overall gender balance of these institutes. Of the 185 nuclear experts, 55 (30 percent) are

2020      women and 130 (70 percent) are men. (See Figure 5)  MENWOMEN         That said, many arms control and nuclear experts work in

specialized think tanks. We surveyed 10 major think tanks and programs that focus exclusively on arms control and nuclear security issues. Together they comprise 175 experts—162 of which focus on nuclear security issues as defined in this scorecard.29 The percentage of women experts working on nuclear security issues in these 10 think tanks  and programs is 30 percent.

Figure 3: Percentage and Gender Ratio of Nuclear Experts 

in Think Tanks                                                                                                  There is, of course, great variation among the think tanks.

Out of the 10 think tanks, only one has achieved parity—the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). (See Table 3 and Figure 5. 

See also the Appendix)




Table 2: Percentage of Women Experts in Foreign Policy and International Security Think Tanks 
RankThink Tank% of Women 
1Aspen Institute50%
2US Institute of Peace (USIP)49%
3Third Way47%
RAND Corporation42%
Stimson Center
6New America41%
7Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)36%
8  Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)31%
Atlantic Council
10  The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars30%
Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
12Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)27%
  13  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)26%
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
Brookings Institution
16Heritage Foundation22%
17Center for American Progress (CAP)19%
18Cato Institute11%
19Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA)10%
20Lexington Institute0%
Table 3: Percentage of Women Experts in Arms Control and Nuclear Security Think Tanks 
RankThink Tank% of Women 
1Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)55%
 2Arms Control Association 43%
Global Zero
4Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control40%
5James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies38%
6Physicians for Social Responsibility33%
7Pugwash Council28%
 8Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,  Harvard Kennedy School27%
9Federation of American Scientists17%
10Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation11%

Substantive Focus

We also examined the substantive focus of those working on nuclear security issues to explore whether gender has an impact on the types of issues people study.30 Our survey found that the majority of nuclear experts focus on issues related to deterrence, followed by arms control. From their bios, we found no notable differences in terms of substantive focus between men and women.

Gender and Women’s Programming

Programming on gender within the institutes has seen little change since 2018.31 Most DC think tanks do not consider the role of gender in national and international security. For many in the traditional security think tank community— men and women—gender is often equated with women or a “woman’s point of view.” This lack of understanding of gender as a multilevel social construct that governs relations between men and women within societal structures and institutions is widespread within the DC foreign policy and security, including in the nuclear security, think tank community.

Figure 4: Gender Ratio – Foreign Policy and International Security Experts in all Think Tanks                                        Measure Names

Figure 5: Gender Ratio – Nuclear Security Experts in all Think Tanks

Measure Names

Of the think tanks surveyed only one—the US Institute of Peace (USIP)—has recognized gender as an important component of its programming. Since 2016, USIP has had a director for gender policy and strategy that oversees and advises all programs on gender. The director sits in the Policy, Learning and Strategy Center, which reports directly to USIP’s president. In addition, USIP functions as the Secretariat for the US Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (WPS).32

Other think tanks have notable gender or women programs:

The Center for New America Security (CNAS) has a Women in National Security program.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has a Smart Women, Smart Power Program and a Women’s Global Leadership Program.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has a Women and Foreign Policy Program and a Women and Foreign Policy Program Advisory Council.

The German Marshall Fund (GMF) since 2017 has organized an annual Women of Color in Transatlantic Leadership Forum. In June 2020, it surveyed the gender balance of European thinks tanks.33

New America has a Gender and Security program housed in its Political Reform Program.

The RAND Corporation has a web page called “RAND Women to Watch,” on which it addresses “Gender Equity in the Workplace” and “Gender Integration in the Military,” including issues related to women and transgender military personnel. In its work on female populations, RAND addresses issues faced by women and girls, including women refugees, migrants and gender-based and intimate partner violence.

In 2020, the Woodrow Wilson Center appointed a gender advisor. In addition, the center has a Middle East Women’s initiative, a Maternal Health Initiative and a Global Women’s Leadership initiative.

The other think tanks have occasional events and publications on gender and security and the WPS agenda. They may  also have one or two individuals working on gender and security issues.34

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) houses the Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy initiative. All the heads of  the 10 specialized arms control and nuclear security think tanks have signed on as Gender Champions. The heads of  the Carnegie Endowment, Third Way and the Stimson

Center have also signed onto the Gender Champion in

Nuclear Policy Pledge.35

Scoring the Journals

The influence of women in the national and international security field, including in the nuclear security field, can also be measured by how well they are represented in academic and professional journals.36

We examined articles in 11 major peer reviewed international security journals, as well as articles in 5 major journals exclusively focused on arms control and nuclear security  issues.

Women wrote 23 percent of the articles in the international security journals versus 64 percent written by men and  13 percent written by mixed gender teams.

That said, there is great variation amongst the journals. Critical Studies on Security is close to parity, with 45 percent of articles written by women versus 48 percent of articles written by men and 8 percent of articles written by mixed gender teams. Security Dialogue has 42 percent of articles written by women versus 47 percent written by men and 11 percent written by mixed gender teams. The Journal of Conflict Resolution is an outlier in the sense that it has the highest percentage of articles written by mixed gender teams—namely, 30 percent versus a 13 percent average. The Journal of Strategic Studies and Survival have the least amount of articles written by women. (See Table 4 and the Appendix.)

Articles on Arms Control and 

Nuclear Security Issues

Our survey found that the majority of articles on nuclear security are published in specialized journals.37  In the  11 international security studies journals surveyed, the percentage of articles that focused on nuclear security issues was only 9 percent. (See Figure 6 and Table 4. See also the Appendix) Of those articles, 15 percent were written by women.38 When we broaden our category and include other weapon and arms control issues, the percentage of articles rises to 16 percent, of which women wrote less than a quarter (21 percent).39 

In the arms control–specific journals, the percentage of articles on nuclear security issues written by women was even lower—17 percent.40 If we broaden our category and include other weapon and arms control issues, the percentage

increased slightly, to 19 percent.41 (See Table 5 and the


That said, there is quite a bit of variation amongst the  arms control journals. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists scores above the average, with 22 percent of articles written  by women. At the other end, the Journal for Peace and  Nuclear Disarmament had only 11 percent of articles written by women.

Our analysis also confirms earlier studies that found that women coauthor less than men, and when they do coauthor, they are more likely to coauthor with men than with other women.42

Figure 6: Percentage of Nuclear Security Articles in International

Security Journals – 2015-2019 

Gender Perspectives

Of the 3,068 articles surveyed in the 16 journals, we found a mere 91 articles (3 percent) with a gender perspective. This number dropped to 2 percent when we considered only articles that focus on arms control and nuclear issues.

Table 4: Percentage of Articles written by Women in International Security Journals – January 2014-December 2019
Rank  Journal  % of Articles  by Women  
1Critical Studies on Security45%
2Security Dialogue42%
3Cooperation and Conflict30%
4European Journal of International Security27%
5Journal of Global Security Studies26%
6International Security23%
7Security Studies22%
8Contemporary Security Policy16%
9Journal of Conflict Resolution15%
11Journal of Strategic Studies11%

The majority (71 percent) of the gender articles were penned by women. In the general security studies journals, women wrote 73 percent of those articles. In the arms control and nuclear security journals, they wrote 65 percent of genderfocused articles.

However, most of the articles with a gender perspective focused on the gender balance within the international security and arms control community and how to increase the number of women in the field. Very few examined how gender (and notions of masculinity and femininity) affects thinking about international security, including nuclear security issues.

Lastly, we examined whether men and women wrote about the same topics in the nuclear and arms control field. While we did not see a marked difference in our think tank analysis between the topics men and women studied, in the journals we did see some differences. Women were more likely to write about drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, chemical and biological weapons and nuclear energy and climate. Men were more likely to write about outer space, proliferation (including nonproliferation) and nuclear deterrence issues.

Concluding Thoughts

The nuclear security community is a subset of the national  and international security community.  Both communities  are deeply entrenched male-dominated communities, in  which “old-boy networks” continue to thrive. While we have seen the number of women experts in the think tanks increase from 27 percent to 35 percent, no progress was made in terms of governing boards, and the number of women heading  think tanks has regressed. Both communities continue to struggle with the integration of women. It is also striking that while it is recognized by many in the international security, including the nuclear security, community that new approaches and new thinking are necessary, gender as a lens through which to analyze international, including nuclear, security challenges is not on think tank agendas. Too little thought is given in either the think tanks or the journals to how gender and notions of masculinity and femininity influence understanding of international and national  security challenges, including challenges related to nuclear security policies.

  Table 5: Percentage of Articles written by Women in Arms Control Journals – January 2014-December 2019 Rank Journal % of Women  1 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 22% 2 International Journal of Nuclear Studies 20% 3 Arms Control Today 19% 4 Nonproliferation Review 17% 5 Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament 11%

While patriarchal structures are difficult to take down, in recent years we have seen some progress in the amount of efforts to break down these structures.

First, the number of women interested in international security issues is increasing. Their enrollment in international affairs schools continues to surpass that of men. Second, a number of people and organizations, including funding organizations, have realized that the changed strategic landscape requires new approaches and new people. This need is apparent for the international security community and particularly for the small, somewhat atrophied nuclear security community. The Nsquare initiative, the Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, and the Ploughshares Fund’s women initiative are explicitly geared toward creating a more diverse and open community. These efforts have also been supported by major funders of this community such as Carnegie Corporation New York and the MacArthur Foundation. Third, after the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, organizations including foreign policy and international security think tanks expressed renewed commitment to building a more diverse workforce. Many think tanks in the international security and nuclear security have signed on to the Organizations in Solidarity initiative of WCAPS.43

It is important to hold organizations accountable and to make sure that progress is measured not just in declaratory statements but also in actions. This scorecard provides numerical baselines.

Our analysis of the journals, even though it encompasses a broader group of experts, reinforces conclusions from the think tank analysis. Women authors remain grossly underrepresented. Journals, like think tanks, suffer from gender gaps.

Many of our 2018 recommendations still hold. Four stand out:

  • Thinks tanks should periodically carry out a gender analysis of their institutions. An inward gender analysis should be intersectional and must include collection and analysis of data related to gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, age and disability. It must focus on knowledge production as well as recruitment, retention and promotion processes. It must also examine policies and practices related to issues such as remuneration, remote work, family leave and sexual harassment. Finally, the think tanks should make deliberate efforts to diversify their governing boards.
  • Think tanks should carry out an analysis of their partnerships and knowledge dissemination. Such an outward gender analysis should focus on whom they partner with and how content is disseminated. Among the questions one should ask: What type of publications are produced, what type of events are organized, who participates and attends these events, who is tapped for media appearances?
  • Think tanks should consider appointing a gender advisor and locate these advisors not in the human resource office but in the front offices with direct access to the leadership.
  • Journals continue to have gender gaps. One is expressed in terms of women authors published in the journals; the other is represented in the lack of gender perspectives. Editors and editorial boards should resort to periodic gender audits of their journals. Such audits would include issues related to the gender balances and substantive background of editorial staff, editorial boards and outside reviewers. It should also include an analysis of the readership—many of whom are also potential authors.


  1. US Congress, Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017, Public Law No. 115-68 (10/06/2017). In accordance with the law, the White House published its WPS Strategy in June 2019. See White House, United States Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (Washington, DC: White House, June 2019).
  2. See Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Soraya Kamali-Nafar, The WIIS Gender Scorecard: Washington, DC Think Tanks – 2018, WIIS Policy Brief (Washington, DC: WIIS, September 2018-1).
  3. This scorecard was supported by a grant from the Ploughshares Fund.
  4. See UN General Assembly A/Res/65/69 (2010). See also UN General

Assembly resolutions A/Res/67/48 (2012); A/Res/68/33 (2013); A/ Res/69/61 (2014); and A/Res/71/56 (2016). In addition, the Genevabased Conference on Disarmament held its first informal meeting  on gender and disarmament in August 2015. In May 2016, it held a second informal plenary on Women and Disarmament, in which delegations restated their support to increase the role of women in the disarmament field.

  • See UN Secretary-General, Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament (New York: United Nations, October 2018).
  • See Renata Hessmann Dalaqua, Kjolv Egeland and Torbjorn Graff Hugo, Still Behind the Curve: Gender Balance in Arms Control, NonProliferation and Disarmament Diplomacy (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2019).
  • See GCNP website at See also Pamela Hamamoto and Laura Holgate, “Gender Champions,” in Tom Z. Collina and Cara Marie Wagner, eds., A New Vision: Gender, Justice, National Security (Washington, DC: Ploughshares Fund, April 2019), pp. 40-45.
  • See GCNP website and GCNP, Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, Impact Report 2019 (Washington, DC: NTI, May 2020), p. 2.
  • International Gender Champions Disarmament, Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2018 and updated in January 2020).
  • See Heather Hurlburt et al., The Consensual Straitjacket: Four Decades of Women in Nuclear Security (Washington, DC: New America, March 2019).
  • SeeTom Z. Colinna and Cara Marie Wagner, eds., A New Vision: Gender, Justice, National Security (Washington, DC: Ploughshares Fund, April 2019).
  • While gender is generally defined and discussed as meaning more than just whether one is a man or a woman, this scorecard takes the binary approach. We identified experts and authors as either women or men by examining their bios, photographs and use of pronouns.
  • This scorecard tallies national and international security experts, including foreign policy and international affairs experts. Definitions of national and international security differ from institution to institution, some use an expanded definition of security, including human security, others have a narrow definition of security. For more on who is included within each of the think tanks see the methodology section on p.15.
  • This corresponds to 185 experts (55 women and 130 men) out of a total of 1,931 experts.
  • These institutes employ a total of 175 experts, but only 162 (113 men and 49 women) work on nuclear security issues.
  • For more on gender and security, see Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown, eds., The Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2020).
  • See Hironao Okahana and Enyu Zhou, Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2006-2016 (Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools,

2017); website of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA); and the website of the International Studies  Association (ISA).

  1. Maria Rost Rublee et al., “Do You Feel Welcome? Gendered Experiences in International Security Studies,” Journal of Global Security Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2020), pp. 216-226.
  2. Hurlburt et al., Consensual Straitjacket, pp. 6 and 18-28.
  3. See Nsquare, Greater Than: Nuclear Threat Professionals Reimagine Their Field (Washington, DC: NSquare, December 2019). See also Bonnie Jenkins, “Diversity Makes Better Policy,” in Tom Z. Collina and Cara Marie Wagner, eds., A New Vision: Gender, Justice, National Security (Washington, DC: Ploughshares Fund, April 2019), pp. 34-39.
  4. This scorecard focuses on gender. That said, the lack of gender diversity often goes hand in hand with discrimination on other  identity markers, such as race, ethnic background, sexual orientation and age. After the killing of George Floyd in summer 2020, Women  of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) launched the Organizations in Solidarity project to root out institutional racism. Many organizations and think tanks, including in the nuclear security arena, (and those surveyed in this scorecard)  signed on to the project.
  5. Carol Cohn, “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense

Intellectuals,” Signs, Vol. 12, No. 4 (1987), pp. 687-718; Carol Cohn and

Sara Ruddick, “ A Feminist Ethical Perspective on Weapons of Mass Destruction,” in Steven Lee and Sohail Hashmi, eds., Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 405-435; Carol Cohn, “The Perils of Mixing Masculinity and Missiles,” The New York Times (January 5, 2018).

  • Cited in Hurlburt et al., Consensual Straitjacket.
  • See Nsquare, Greater Than, p. 14.
  • Ibid., p. 15. See also note 17.
  • In 2018, 32 percent of think tanks were headed by women. The reins of the Center for a New American Security passed from a woman to a man, and leadership position of the US Institute of Peace is vacant as of the summer of 2020 with the departure in August 2020 of Nancy Lindborg, who had been president and CEO since 2015.
  • This number also does not include information with regard to the German Marshall Fund (GMF). At the time of our survey no data was available on the website regarding experts at GMF. In addition, at the time of our survey the Bipartisan Policy Centre had no longer a foreign policy international security program.
  • Amongst the nuclear programs in the Foreign Policy and

International Security think tanks mention should be made of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI), a program, housed at CSIS, that is geared towards the next generation of professionals in the nuclear security field. In addition, the Carnegie Endowment hosts every two years an international non-proliferation conference attracting hundreds of experts, officials and journalists from around the world.

  • Nuclear experts are defined as experts and analysts who study topics related to nuclear deterrence, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear policy, general nuclear issues, nuclear security (nuclear materials, fuel cycle, nuclear energy, radiological security), arms control and disarmament, nuclear technologies, defense strategy with a nuclear focus, regional studies with nuclear focus (North Korea, China, Iran, Asia-Pacific, Korea, Middle East). See also the methodology section in this scorecard.
  • Within our overall nuclear security category, we defined nine subtopics: nuclear deterrence, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear policy, nuclear security (nuclear materials, fuel cycle, nuclear energy, radiological security), arms control and disarmament, nuclear technologies, defense strategy with a nuclear focus, regional studies  with nuclear focus (North Korea, China, Iran, Asia-Pacific, Korea, Middle East) and miscellaneous nuclear issues.
  • See de Jonge Oudraat and Kamali-Nafar, WIIS Gender  Scorecard 2018.
  • TheU.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (U.S. CSWG)brings together over 40 organizations and civil society groups working on women’s issues, gender and the WPS agenda. While many of these groups are active in advocacy and operational work, many will also conduct research and produce policy papers. See
  • See Rosa Balfour, Corinna Hörst, Pia Hüsch, Sofia Shevchuk and Eleonora del Vecchio, Absent Influencers? Women in European Think Tanks, Policy Paper No. 5 (Brussels, Paris, Washington, DC: GMF,  June 2020).
  • For example, Lisa Aronsson at the Atlantic Council, Saskia Brechenmacher at the Carnegie Endowment or Mackenzie Eaglen at the American Enterprise Institute.
  • All gender champions adopt a panel parity pledge. See GCNP website.
  • For more on the representation of women in journals, see Nadia

Crevecoeur, Kayla McGill and Maya Whitney, The Gender Balance in 11 Security Journals, A review of the literature and PowerPoint analysis of women authors in security journals, draft manuscript (Washington, DC:

WIIS, 2020).

  • Nuclear security issues were determined by title keyword searches. The following keywords were used: weapons—nuclear, hypersonic, missiles (ICBMs, etc.), missile defense, nuclear technology in weapons, cleanup from nuclear accidents, nuclear energy, IAEA, nuclear terrorism, deterrence, nonproliferation. Treaties: disarmament and arms control, nuclear disarmament, NPT, CTBT, INF, nuclear export control, fissile materials negotiations. We also added a country level: USA, China, Russia, France, UK, NATO/Europe, Iran, India/Pakistan, Middle East, North Korea. Arms control issues were broadly defined and determined by the following title keyword searches: weapons—nuclear, hypersonic, missiles (ICBMs, etc.), drones, biological weapons, chemical weapons, missile defense, technology in weapons (very specific, not just technological advances in general but focused on weapons), cybersecurity/cyber war. General themes: geoengineering and climate change, medical/radio isotopes, cleanup from nuclear accidents, nuclear energy, IAEA, nuclear terrorism, space, materials. Treaties: disarmament and arms control, nuclear disarmament, NPT, CTBT, INF, export control, biological and chemical weapons control, fissile materials negotiations, arms trade, general. We also added a country level: USA, China, Russia, France, UK, NATO/Europe, Iran, India/Pakistan, Middle East, North Korea.
  • The overall number of articles in the 11 security journals was 

2,147, of which 194 were devoted to nuclear security issues. There were 29 (15%) written by women, 149 (77%) by men, and 16 (8%) by mixed gender teams. When we expand our focus and include other weapons and arms control issues, the total number of articles was 338. 

  • Of those 338 articles, 72 (21%) were written by women, 232 (69%) by men and 34 (10%) by mixed gender teams. The overall percentage of articles written by women is 23 percent.
  • Of the 921 articles, 683 focused on nuclear security issues. There were 115 (17%) written by women, 512 (75%) by men; and 56 (8%) by mixed gender teams.
  • Of the 921 articles in the five arms control and nuclear security journals, 178 (19%) were written by women, 661 (72%) by men, and  82 (9%) by mixed gender teams.
  • See Crevecoeur, McGill and Whitney, Gender Balance in  11 Security Journals.
  • See the WCAPS website.
Appendix: Think Tanks  
Foreign Policy and International Security Think Tanks American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Head: Robert Doar (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 29 – 6 (F) + 23 (M) 21% female 2020 Total: 31 – 8 (F) + 23 (M) 26% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total:  2 – 0(F) + 2 (M) 0% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 27 – 0 (F) + 27 (M) – 0% female 2020 Total: 27 – 1 (F) + 26 (M) – 4% female Atlantic Council Head: Frederick Kempe (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 227 – 66 (F) + 161 (M) – 29% female 2020 Total: 327 – 102(F) + 225 (M) – 31% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 12 – 1 (F) + 11 (M) – 8% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 200 – 39 (F) + 161 (M) – 20% female 2020 Total: 199 – 41 (F) + 158 (M) – 21% female Aspen Institute Head: Dan Porterfield (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 10 – 2 (F) + 8 (M) – 20% female 2020 Total: 8 – 4 (F) + 4 (M) – 50% female Nuclear Experts: None Governing Board: 2018 Total: 77 – 26 (F) + 51 (M) – 34% female 2020 Total: 81 – 28 (F) + 53 (M) – 35% female Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Head: Jason Grumet (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 17 – 4 (F) + 13 (M) – 24% female 2020 Not Available Governing Board: 2018 Total: 17 – 5 (F) + 12 (M) – 29% female 2020 Total: 14 – 5 (F) + 9 (M) – 36% female Brookings Institution Head: John R. Allen (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 109 – 28 (F) + 81 (M) – 26% female 2020 Total: 117 – 30 (F) + 87 (M) – 26% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 13 – 3 (F) + 10 (M) – 23% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 89 – 19 (F) + 70 (M) – 21% female 2020 Total: 86 – 19 (F) + 67 (M) – 22% female Cato Institute Head: Peter N. Goettler (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 11 – 3 (F) + 8 (M) – 27% female 2020 Total: 9 – 1 (F) + 8 (M) – 11% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 1 – 0 (F) + 1(M) – 0% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 19 – 2 (F) + 17 (M) – 11% female 2020 Total: 18 – 2 (F) + 16 (M) – 11% femaleCarnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Head: William J. Burns (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 32 – 10 (F) + 22 (M) – 31% female 2020 Total: 27 – 7 (F) + 20 (M) – 26% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 5 – 1 (F) + 4 (M) – 20% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 31 – 7 (F) + 24 (M) – 23% female 2020 Total: 31 – 8 (F) + 23 (M) – 26% female Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) Head: Thomas G. Mahnken (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 32 – 4 (F) + 28 (M) – 13% female 2020 Total: 30 – 3 (F) + 27 (M) – 10% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 15 – 6 (F) + 9 (M) – 40% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 8 – 2 (F) + 6 (M) – 25% female 2020 Total: 9 – 3 (F) + 6 (M) – 33% female Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Head: John J. Hamre (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 108 – 32 (F) + 76 (M) – 30% female 2020 Total: 118 – 37 (F) + 81 (M) – 31% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 12 – 6 (F) + 6 (M) – 50%  Governing Board: 2018 Total: 44 – 5 (F) + 39 (M) – 11% female 2020 Total: 44 – 5 (F) + 39 (M) – 11% female Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Head: Richard N. Haass (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 75 – 22 (F) + 53 (M) – 29% female 2020 Total: 85 – 23 (F) + 62 (M) – 27% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 7 – 3 (F) + 4 (M) – 43% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 36 – 11 (F) + 25 (M) – 31% female 2020 Total: 36 – 11 (F) + 25 (M) – 31% female Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Head: Richard Fontaine (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 78 – 29 (F) + 49 (M) – 37% female 2020 Total: 73 – 22 (F) + 51 (M) – 30 % female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 9 – 2 (F) + 7 (M) – 22% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 21 – 2 (F) + 19 (M) – 10% female 2020 Total: 25 – 3 (F) + 22 (M) – 12% female Center for American Progress (CAP) Head: Neera Tanden (F) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 19 – 3 (F) + 16 (M) – 16% female 2020 Total: 16 – 3 (F) + 13 (M) – 19% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 3 – 0 (F) + 3 (M) – 0% Governing Board: 2018 Total: 9 – 2 (F) + 7 (M) – 22% female 2020 Total: 10 – 3 (F) + 7 (M) – 30% femaleGerman Marshall Fund (GMF) Head: Karen Donfried (F) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 44 – 12 (F) + 32 (M) – 27% female 2020 Not Available Governing Board: 2018 Total: 19 – 5 (F) + 14 (M) – 26% female 2020 Total: 21 – 8 (F) + 13 (M) – 38% female Heritage Foundation Head: Kay Coles James (F) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 32 – 7 (F) + 25 (M) – 22% female 2020 Total: 46 – 10 (F) + 36 (M) – 22% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 14 – 2 (F) + 12 (M) – 14% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 25 – 6 (F) + 19 (M) – 24% female 2020 Total: 27 – 5 (F) + 22 (M) – 19% female Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Head: Robert L. Borosage (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 16 – 7 (F) + 9 (M) – 44% female 2020 Total: 36 – 13 (F) + 23 (M) – 36% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 1 – 1 (M) + 0 (F) – 0% Governing Board: 2018 Total: 18 – 8 (F) + 10 (M) – 44% female 2020 Total: 18 – 8 (F) + 10 (M) – 44% female Lexington Institute Head: Merrick “Mac” Carey (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 6 – 1 (F) + 5 (M) – 17% female 2020 Total: 6 – 0 (F) + 6 (M) – 0% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 1 – 0 (F) + 1 (M) – 0% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 7 – 0 (F) + 7 (M) – 0% female 2020 Total: 6 – 0 (F) + 6 (M) – 0% female New America Head: Anne-Marie Slaughter (F) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 104 – 34 (F) + 70 (M) – 33% female 2020 Total 103 – 42 (F) + 61 (M) – 41% female Nuclear Experts: None Governing Board: 2018 Total: 22 – 6 (F) + 16 (M) – 27% female 2020 Total: 20 – 6 (F) + 14 (M) – 30% female RAND Corporation Head: Michael D. Rich (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 613 – 245 (F) + 368 (M) – 40% female 2020 Total 541 – 229 (F) + 312 (M) – 42% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total 47 – 12 (F) + 31 (M) – 28% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 26 – 7 (F) + 19 (M) – 27% female 2020 Total 24 – 7 (F) + 17 (M) – 30% female
Appendix: Think Tanks  
Stimson Center Head: Brian Finlay (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 72 – 37 (F) + 35 (M) – 51% female 2020 Total: 106 – 45 (F) + 61 (M) – 42% female * Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 40 – 18 (F) + 22 (M) – 45% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 27 – 7 (F) + 20 (M) – 26% female 2020 Total: 30 – 9 (F) + 21 (M) – 30% female Third Way Head: Jonathan Cowan (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 17 – 8 (F) + 9 (M) – 47% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 8 – 4 (F) + 4 (M) – 50% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 30 – 6 (F) + 24 (M) – 20% female US Institute of Peace (USIP) Head: … Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 72 – 35 (F) + 37 (M) – 49% female 2020 Total: 84 – 41 (F) + 43 (M) – 49% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 7 – 2 (F) + 5 (M) – 29% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 15 – 3 (F) + 12 (M) – 20% female 2020 Total: 15 – 3 (F) + 12 (M) – 20% female The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Head: Jane Harman (F) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 187 – 64 (F) + 123 (M) – 34% female 2020 Total: 151 – 46 (F) + 105 (M) – 30% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 4 – 1 (F) + 3 (M) – 25% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 16 – 5 (F) + 11 (M) – 31% female 2020 Total: 17 – 5 (F) + 12 (M) – 29% femaleArms Control and Nuclear Security  Think Tanks Arms Control Association Head: Daryl G. Kimball (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 7 – 3 (F) + 4 (M) – 43% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 7 – 3 (F) + 4 (M) – 43% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 35 – 12 (F) + 23 (M) – 34% female Center for Arms Control and NonProliferation Head: Edward Levine (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 19 – 2 (F) + 17 (M) – 11 % female Nuclear Experts 2020 Total: 19 – 2 (F) + 17 (M) – 11% female Governing Board: (Does not include the Szilard Advisory Board) 2020 Total: 24 – 5 (F) + 19 (M) – 21% female Federation of American Scientists Head: Ali Nouri (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 18 – 3 (F) + 15 (M) – 17% female Nuclear Experts 2020 Total: 12 – 3 (F) + 9 (M) – 25% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 17 – 6 (F) + 11 (M) – 35% female Global Zero Head: Derek Johnson (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 7 – 3 (F) + 4 (M) – 43% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 7 – 3 (F) + 4 (M) – 43% female Governing Board: Not Available James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies Head: William Potter (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 13 – 5 (F) + 8 (M) – 38% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 13 – 5 (F) + 8 (M) – 38% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 4 – 2 (F) + 2 (M) – 50% female Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School Head: Matthew Bunn (M), Steven Miller (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 30 – 8 (F) + 22 (M) – 27% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 30 – 8 (F) + 22 (M) – 27% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 45 – 15 (F) + 30 (M) – 33% femaleNuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) Head: Ernest J. Moniz (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2018 Total: 18 – 9 (F) + 9 (M) – 50% female 2020 Total: 22 – 12 (F) + 10 (M) – 55% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 19 – 9 (F) + 10 (M) – 47% female Governing Board: 2018 Total: 34 – 7 (F) + 27 (M) – 21% female 2020 Total: 35 – 8 (F) + 27 (M) – 23% female Physicians for Social Responsibility Head: Jeff Carter (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 6 – 2 (F) + 4 (M) – 33% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 2 – 0 (F) + 2 (M) – 0% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 27 – 11 (F) + 16 (M) – 41% female Pugwash Council Head: Sergio Duarte (M) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 43 – 12 (F) + 31 (M) – 28% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 43 – 12 (F) + 31 (M) – 28% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 8 – 2 (F) + 6 (M) – 25% female Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control Head: Valerie Lincy (F) Nat./Int. Security Experts: 2020 Total: 10 – 4 (F) + 6 (M) – 40% female Nuclear Experts: 2020 Total: 10 – 4 (F) + 6 (M) – 40% female Governing Board: 2020 Total: 9 – 3 (F) + 6 (M) – 33% female
Notes: Absolute Numbers and Gender Ratio of Articles in International Security Journals – January 2014-December 2019
            Contemporary Security Policy   152         25           16%        109           72%          18           12% Nuclear Security Articles 47 8 17% 32 68% 7 15% Cooperation and Conflict 168 51 30% 94 56% 23 14% Nuclear Security Articles 5 2  40% 3 60%   – Critical Studies on Security 200 90 45% 95 48% 15 8% Nuclear Security Articles 28 13 46% 14 50% 1 4% European Journal of International Security 63 17 27% 40 63% 6 10% Nuclear Security Articles 14 2 14% 10 72% 2 14% International Security 114 26 23% 77 67% 11 10% Nuclear Security Articles 32 6 19% 20 62% 6 19% Journal of Conflict Resolution 403 60 15% 224 56% 119 29% Nuclear Security Articles 18 4 22% 11 61% 3 17% Journal of Global Security Studies 117 30 26% 68 58% 19 16% Nuclear Security Articles 16 3 19% 10 62% 3 19% Journal of Strategic Studies 233 26 11% 192 82% 15 7% Nuclear Security Articles 56 9 16% 41 73% 6 11% Security Dialogue 191 80 42% 89 47% 22 11% Nuclear Security Articles 17 8 47% 7 41% 2 12% Security Studies 159 34 22% 107 67% 18 11% Nuclear Security Articles 21 4 19% 15 71% 2 10% Survival 347 48 14% 280 81% 19 5% Nuclear Security Articles 84 12 14% 70 83% 2 3% Journal                                                                                      Total No                            Women*                                       Men*                               Mixed Gender Teams
Notes: Absolute Numbers and Gender Ratio of Articles in Arms Control Journals – January 2014-December 2019
            Arms Control Today   251         47           19%        191           76%           13            5% Bulletin of Atomic Scientist 392 85 22% 271 69% 36 9% International Journal of Nuclear Studies 54 11 20% 32 60% 11 20% Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament 63 7 11% 52 83% 4 6% Nonproliferation Review 161 28 17% 115 72% 18 11% Journal                                                                                      Total No                            Women*                                       Men*                                 Mixed Gender Teams *Includes articles by single authors and by same sex coauthors
Think Tanks All data come from the think tanks’ own websites. Data for the think tanks were collected between September 2019 and January 2020, except for Third Way. Data for Third Way were collected in July 2020. Data for the governing boards of all think tanks were collected in July 2020. We were not able to retrieve data for experts from the German Marshall Fund’s (GMF) website. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) no longer features a national or international security program on its website. Hence, data for GMF and BPC are incomplete. While gender is generally defined and discussed as meaning more than just whether one is a man or a woman, this scorecard takes the binary approach. We identified experts and authors as either women or men by examining their bios, photographs and use of pronouns. This scorecard tallies experts, analysts and fellows. We did not include people whose main responsibilities are in the administrative, operational, personnel, development, communication, and editorial sectors. Experts in foreign policy, defense and national and international security were selected based on the identification of such experts by the think tanks themselves. Nuclear security experts were identified by searching the think tank websites and expert bios for any the following terms: nuclear deterrence, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear policy, general nuclear issues, nuclear security (nuclear materials, fuel cycle, nuclear energy, radiological security), arms control and disarmament, nuclear technologies, defense strategy with a nuclear focus, regional studies with nuclear focus (North Korea, China, Iran, Asia-Pacific, Korea, Middle East). We did not analyze experts’ seniority. Some think tanks include junior staff; others identify only mid-level and senior staff. We did not distinguish between nonresident and resident experts. Again, for each think tank, we followed the think tank’s own identification of its experts. In the case of RAND we excluded all adjunct experts. Adjuncts at RAND are the equivalent of non-residential fellows in other institutions. RAND will feature some adjunct experts, but not all adjuncts on its website. Upon request and in consultation with RAND we decided to leave all adjuncts off this tally. The following experts, analysts, fellows, scholars and staff have been included for: AEI: All Foreign and Defense Policy Scholars; Atlantic Council: All Fellows and Non-Resident Fellows mentioned under Experts; Aspen Institute: All Security & Global Affairs, including the Aspen Strategy Group, the Cybersecurity & Technology Program, and the Homeland Security Program; Bipartisan Policy Center: No Information; Brookings Institution: All Experts in theForeign Policy Program; Cato Institute: All Nat./ Int. Security Experts; Carnegie Endowment: All Experts in the Washington, DC office; CSBA: All All Nat./Int. Security Experts; CAP: Foreign Policy and Security Program; CSIS: All Experts; CFR: All Experts; CNAS: All Experts; GMF: Not Available; Heritage Foundation: Heritage Foundation: All Experts in the International, National Security, and Nuclear Energy Issue Areas; IPS: All Experts; Lexington Institute: All Experts; New America: All Analysts and Fellows in the Cybersecurity Initiative, the International Security Program and the Gender and Security Program; RAND: All experts in the Homeland Security and Public Safety, the International Affairs, and the National Security Programs. Our tally does not do not include Adjuncts, Operational Staff and Legislative Assistants. It may also be noted that some experts in the Homeland Security and Public Safety program are more focused on public safety and domestic issues. Similarly, some experts in the International Affairs Program are focused on non-security international affairs issues; Stimson Center: Senior Research Team & Distinguished Fellows; Third Way: Experts in Climate and Energy and National Security; USIP: All Experts; The Wilson Center: All Experts; Arms Control Association: All Expert Staff; Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation: All Experts; FAS: All Expert Staff; Global Zero: All Expert Staff;  James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies: All Expert Staff; Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: All Experts; NTI: All Expert Staff;  Physicians for Social Responsibility: All Expert Staff; Pugwash Council: All Expert Staff;  Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control: All Expert Staff.  The Full Think Tank Data Set is available from WIIS. Journals Sixteen journals were examined over the period January 2014–December 2019: 11 security studies journals and 5 journals focused exclusively on arms control and nuclear security issues. 11 – International Security Journals: Contemporary Security Policy; Cooperation &Conflict; Critical Studies on Security; European Journal of International Security; International Security; Journal of Conflict Resolution; Journal of Global Security Studies; Journal of Strategic Studies; Security Dialogue; Security Studies; Survival. 5 – Arms Control and Nuclear Security Journals: Arms Control Today; Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; International Journal of Nuclear Studies; Journal for Peace &Nuclear Disarmament; Nonproliferation Review. The survey covered all articles published in these journals. We excluded editorial comments, reviews of any kind (i.e., book reviews) external news articles or blogs, letters to the editor, addendums and other nonrelevant sections. We established 6 datasets. Data set 1: All 16 journals. Comprises all articles from the 11 international security and 5 arms control and nuclear security journals from January 2014 to December 2019. Does not include letters to the editor, book reviews, or external blogs. Total articles: 3,068 by women (individual and coauthor): 665 by men (individual and coauthor): 2,036 by mixed gender teams: 367 articles with a gender perspective: 91 Data set 2: All international security journals  (11 journals). January 2014-December 2019 Total articles: 2,147 by women (individual and coauthor): 487 by men (individual and coauthor): 1,375 by mixed gender teams: 285 gender articles: 71 arms control/nuclear articles: 338 Data set 3: All arms control and nuclear security journals (5 journals). January 2014-December 2019 Total articles: 921 by women (individual and coauthor): 178 by men (individual and coauthor): 661 by mixed gender teams: 82 articles with a gender perspective: 20 Data set 4: All arms control and nuclear security articles (16 journals). Comprises all articles  from the 5 nuclear journals and 338 arms control/nuclear security issues articles from  the 11 security journals. Total articles: 1,259 by women (individual and coauthor): 250 by men (individual and coauthor): 893 by mixed gender teams: 116 articles with a gender perspective: 21 Data set 5: All nuclear security articles in all journals (16 journals). Total articles: 877 by women (individual and coauthor): 144 by men (individual and coauthor): 661 by mixed gender teams: 72 Data set 6: All nuclear security articles in internationals security journals (11 journals). Total articles: 194 by women (individual and coauthor): 29 by men (individual and coauthor): 149 by mixed gender teams: 16 All data is available from WIIS. Contact: info@, Subject: Scorecard data

By Velomahanina T. Razakamaharavo, Luisa Ryan, and Leah Sherwood

United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 expressed a global commitment to the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda. Many policy statements and guidance

on gender mainstreaming have followed in the 17 years since UNSCR 1325’s passage, yet peace operations on the ground appear little affected. They continue to overlook the many roles women play in conflict and conflict resolution, fail to engage fully with women’s organizations, and fail to include women fighters in reintegration and security sector reform programs.1 They even perpetrate exploitation: Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) continues to be widespread within peace missions themselves, despite increased SEA and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) training for operation forces.2 Further, peace operations have failed to address the more inclusive Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) agenda and the broader role gender plays in conflict dynamics. For example, while missions may seek to address the effects of conflict-related sexual violence on women and girls, they may miss similar impacts for male victims and their families.3

Improved gender training could help ameliorate this mismatch between policy rhetoric and practice. This policybrief outlines current gender training practice, identifies gaps, and recommends ways to strengthen training in order to help peace operations personnel better understand how to apply a gender lens in their missions.

Current Training Practice

The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) impacts on women and girls and the need to engage local women as agents of change, and its efforts subsequently turned to influencing gender attitudes among peacekeepers themselves.4 Training remains one of the best mechanisms available to DPKO and the Department of Field Support (DFS) to mainstream gender perspectives in peace operations.

DPKO reiterated its commitment to gender in 2010 by issuing guidance highlighting the importance of UNSCR 1325 and gender training.5 In 2014, DPKO and DFS followed up with Gender Forward Looking Strategy (2014–2018).6 The UN is attempting to integrate gender into DPKO core business areas, such as security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), as well as promoting an understanding of gender among the civilian, police, and military peacekeeping forces.

Despite departmental cooperation on these initiatives, gender mainstreaming in peace operations rarely rises above an “add women and stir” approach. Nor does it extend to men and boys. And its inability to curb sexual abuses and other practices inconsistent with UN ethics and directives threatens to undermine the WPS/GPS agenda altogether. To be able to identify inefficiencies in, or problems related to, gender training in peacekeeping operations, it is necessary to understand the UN gender peacekeeping training cogwheel. This cogwheel is composed of interrelated, intertwined, complementary processes and mechanisms. Figure 1 illustrates the levels at which action for better, more integrated training ought to be directed.

aims to promote and advance gender equality through its policies on gender mainstreaming. DPKO initially sought to raise peacekeepers’ awareness of conflict-related

Figure 1: The cogwheel of UN gender peacekeeping training                                                materials is up to their training institutions and

therefore may vary widely. These institutions may also design and implement their own training modules.

Other training packages delivered inmission may also include gender elements. Missionwide sessions on civilian protection and on conduct and discipline regularly touch on gender issues. For instance, new civilian recruits must complete web-based modules on sexual harassment and SEA, which falls under the purview of conduct and discipline but also has a gender dimension due to associated power dynamics, gender roles, and gender-based violence. However, Civil Affairs, which may be responsible for civilian protection, and Conduct and Discipline, which incorporates gender elements, largely operate independently. These areas in reality significantly overlap. Yet they are

Different recipients receive gender training at different phases of deployment. Civilian staff receive standardized predeployment training via online modules and through induction that takes place in person over several days. Uniformed peacekeepers receive gender training within predeployment packages provided by their home country. Additional induction is generally provided after arrival in-mission, although the time dedicated to gender and the content may vary widely. Specialized, ad hoc training may also be provided on an “as needed” basis on, for example, gender issues and protection of civilians. As most training occurs predeployment or in-mission, headquarters staff may only receive training on an ad hoc basis.7 Finally, all members of mission leadership teams receive preselection, predeployment, and induction on gender. DPKO offers a specific course for emerging leaders, preparing them to be senior staff, which includes a gender component. However, as demonstrated by the continuing challenges in mainstreaming gender across missions, the current training is not having the desired impact.

The training that in-coming police or military officers receive depends on their country of origin. The only training DPKO HQ is responsible for is the gender component of the Core Predeployment Training Materials (CPTM).8 It covers issues such as the differences between women and men (gender versus sex), the differentiated impacts of conflict on women and girls, the importance of the WPS/GPS agenda, the Women in Peacekeeping Legal Framework, gender equality, and other conceptual issues. These materials are available to member states, troop contributing countries (TCCs), police contributing countries (PCCs), gender units working for the missions, or any entity providing training to peacekeepers. However, how these units and states choose to use the compartmentalized in training, when they

ought to be addressed at multiple levels through cross-cutting and intersectional lenses. Integrated training can help solve this problem.

Key Challenges

There are numerous challenges associated with gender training in peace operations. Table 1 offers an overview of the nature of these challenges. First, it categorizes the root causes of poor gender training outcomes. Second, it breaks gender training down into the main stages it is offered: before and during. Lastly, the table shows challenges at training design, trainer and recipient selection, and training administration. The table shows where challenges cluster and reveals opportunity for change by identifying possible synergies. The conceptual approach taken is an adaptation of conflict diagnostic approaches commonly used in the peacebuilding field.9

Predeployment Gender Training

There are four main challenges for training at the predeployment stage: compliance, relevance, quality, and access.

First, although UN-developed gender training material is provided to them, its use by TCCs and PCCs during predeployment training is voluntary. Though the DPKO has declared gender training mandatory for member states, it has no authority to enforce compliance. As a result, the quality and comprehensiveness of the training varies widely, and personnel enter UNPKO service with differing levels of gender knowledge and exposure to the WPS/GPS agenda.10

Second, TCCs and PCCs bring their own varied cultural interpretations of gender to their missions. In some cases, contributing countries may not prioritize gender issues within their domestic military and police establishments. In this environment, the trainer’s and the recipient’s existing opinions and practices related to gender relations may therefore go largely unchallenged.

Third, there is room for improvement in the quality of gender training content. For both civilians and uniformed personnel, the predeployment gender module’s generalized nature makes it a poor-quality tool for recipients. Gender training is short and presented in passive learning environments, neither of which is conducive to developing understanding of complex ideas.

Finally, the training given to existing leadership or emerging leaders before deployment is not gender training per se; it is leadership training with a gender component. This difference is subtle but significant because gender training ought to generate comprehension of the WPS/GPS agenda. In practice, leadership training tends to outline UNSCR 1325 and provide checklists to implement it. Largely generic, nonmission-specific training on gender does not support mission leadership of gender mainstreaming or present a gender lens for understanding the conflict to which they are deployed. In addition, UN volunteers (nationally and internationally engaged) and national staff, who are vital to peace operations, often are overlooked in predeployment training.

In-Mission Gender Training

In-mission training challenges are present in training design, provision, accountability, and prioritization.

The limited capacity for gender training means that it often does not extend beyond the generic level. A lack of facilitators ensures that brief, superficial, siloed gender training will continue.11 Additionally, the staff who are available for designing and delivering training have varying degrees of expertise in gender issues and teaching skills. The difficulty

Table 1. Gender Training Problems: (Q) (I) (P) (T) (C) 
Predeployment(Q), (C)(I), (Q), (C), (P)(Q), (C), (P)(Q), (I), (C), (T)
In-mission(Q), (T), (C), (P)(I), (Q), (P), (T)(Q), (C), (P)(Q), (T), (I), (P)
Categories: (Q) Quality Varied level of excellence, consistency, and fragmentation (of units, departments, and trainers) (P) People Mission leadership teams, gender advisors, future leaders (T) Time Physical time to complete task within budget and with resources allotted (C) Cultural Biases, lack of information and awareness, stereotypes, prejudices (I)              Institutional HQ, UN 

in translating concepts like gender into practical training was identified by the Integrated Training Service (ITS), which is responsible for periodic needs assessments to identify training required to implement UNSCR mandates, including UNSCR 1325. ITS’s 2013 report identified gender training as a priority, stating that more “understanding [is needed]of how to integrate cross-cutting issues like gender into work” and that gender concepts need to bebroken down into components so individual staff members understand the meaning of protection of civilians and how it relates to his or her job function.”12

The development of training materials and training itself have to compete with enormous workload demands that many staff face in-mission in difficult contexts. Uniformed staff may be deployed for only six-month periods, so there is limited time to learn new ways of analyzing social contexts and turnover is incredibly high. Yet gender training recipients need time to internalize and apply concepts. The 30- to 60-minute induction sessions are inadequate, for example, to explain that gender is not synonymous with “women’s issues.” It is also not enough time to internalize how to apply the gender lens, especially when other messaging, such as acknowledging that male staff may engage sex workers, contradicts it. As personnel arrive in-mission with varying levels of knowledge, effective gender training in-mission is essential.

Mission Leadership Teams (MLTs) have myriad competing demands to contend with, and gender issues may not seem to be the most pressing. Especially in ongoing conflicts, stopping active fighting and bringing the main parties to the negotiation table understandably are likely to receive highest priority. A comprehensive understanding of gender as an analytical tool has progressed but slowly, further hampered by those who perceive it as a development issue that can be taken up once the immediate crisis has passed.

However, a gender lens strengthens and complements the traditional security lens, by ensuring, for example, that women participate in peace processes or that appropriate provision is made for understanding how the conflict may be affecting women/girls and men/boys differently. Fostering an understanding of gender and the use of gender as a lens for analyzing unfolding conflicts would help UN peacekeeping staff identify vulnerabilities and opportunities in conflict and postconflict contexts. Highly specialized, contextspecific training should be provided to the MLT so they can incorporate gender into their own management strategies and ensure that gender training is a mission priority. In the context of recent cuts to mission budgets for dedicated gender activities and staff, this is particularly important.

Ways Forward

  1. General recommendations to improve UNPKO gender training:
    1. Gender training must be more responsive to the educational background, experience, and cultural backgrounds of recipients but also better reflect the cultural sensitivities of countries where the missions operate. Although gender training must meet requirements set by the UN, it should be presented in culturally relevant ways.
    1. Experiential learning ought to be applied in gender training. The use of scenarios, role-plays, and opportunities for discussion and debate will foster applicable, practical understandings of gender. It is vital to leverage new tools and pedagogy to convey concepts in digestible and useful ways. A Behavior Change Communication (BCC) approach could strengthen internalization of the GPS framework among UN staff.13 BCC envisages social change and individual change as two sides of the same coin.14 A BCC approach can support gender training as it focuses on the implementation of advocacy programs, communication techniques, and similar areas of best practice. Modifying recipients’ behavior is also a goal of gender training, so linking them could be helpful.
    1. Opportunities for those leading gender training in-mission to participate in academic conferences and other settings should be encouraged so that trainers stay abreast of the latest thinking on applying gender in conflict and postconflict contexts.
    1. Training must also address the experiences of men and boys so that gender is more robustly understood and not confined to “women’s issues.”
    1. The WPS/GPS agenda must be translated into accessible, practical knowledge that highlights its importance. Much of current training is conceptual.
  2. Recommendations to improve in-mission gender training:
    1. Context-specific gender training should be developed that encompasses gender dynamics in the host country, gendered aspects of the conflict, and how to apply an analytical lens to appropriate, real scenarios.
    1. The silos that surround UN units for the protection of civilians and conduct and discipline should be broken down during training to emphasize gender’s cross-sectional nature. While civilian protection training should be conducted by content experts, gender teams could contribute to discussions on the utility of a gender lens when assessing threats to civilians or opportunities for peacebuilding, for instance.
    1. Targeted training should be developed for all categories of actors and should be cross-cutting, covering all aspects of gender (e.g., SEA, gender equality,


  • Military and civilian training should be combined so that both share an understanding of challenges and opportunities related to gender across the spectrum of mission activities.
    • Training evaluation should be central to the UN, member states, and training institutions.15 Such evaluation will help determine training effectiveness but also identify opportunities to strengthen training and determine best practice.
    • Senior mission leadership, and the MLT in particular, should be given context-specific gender briefs before deployment. These briefs should be interactive and generate actionable plans on how to integrate a gender perspective into their team’s workstream.

Gender is a vital analytical tool for UN peacekeepers. Broader, more adept employment of a gender lens would contribute to better understanding of conflict dynamics in their areas of operation. It would enable them to identify vulnerabilities and challenges in early warning, protection of civilians, and peacebuilding. Currently, gender is still underused and poorly understood in missions, where personnel may see it is a lesser priority in the face of active conflict or as a development issue that other UN agencies and partners can take up at a later date. More effective training can deepen peacekeepers’ understanding of gender and how to use it as a tool in their everyday work. This brief has recommended improvements to gender training at the staff level and at the mission leadership level in order to ensure that a gender lens becomes an entrenched, critical element of the peacekeeping skill set.


  1. Robert Muggah, Security and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dealing with Fighters in the Aftermath of War (London/New York: Routledge, 2008).
  2. Stephen Moncrief, “Military Socialization, Disciplinary Culture, and Sexual Violence in UN Peacekeeping Operations,” Journal of Peace Research 54, no. 5 (2017), pp. 715–30.
  3. Élise Féron, “Support Programs for Male Survivors of Conflict-

Related Sexual Violence,” in Ronald E. Anderson, ed., Alleviating World Suffering: The Challenge of Negative Quality of Life (Cham: Springer, 2017), pp. 335–47.

  • Comfort Lamptey, “Gender Training in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations,” Gender and Peacebuilding in Africa Occasional Papers, no. 5 (Cape Town/Nairobi: Pambazuka Press, 2012).
  • DPKO/DFS Guidelines: Integrating a Gender Perspective into the Work of the United Nations Military in Peacekeeping Operations (New York: UN, 2010).
  • UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support, DPKO/DFS Gender Forward Looking Strategy 2014– 2018 (New York: United Nations, 2014).
  • For example, no specific gender training was provided to HQ staff in 2017.
  • United Nations Peacekeeping Resource Hub, “DPKO-DFS Core Predeployment Training Materials (CPTM 2017) for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: CPTM Introduction,” UN website, 2017.
  • See Conflict Prevention and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Network,

Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment Handbook, (September, 2005)

  1. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces

(DCAF) and the Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfPC), PfPC

SSRWG and EDWG Handbook on Teaching Gender in the Military

  1. Lamptey, “Gender Training in UNPKO,” p. 18
  2. Aïssata Athie and Sarah Taylor, UN Peacekeeping: Where Is the Gender Expertise? (New York: IPI Global Observatory, 2017).
  3. Shanthi Kalatthil, John Langlois, and Adam Kaplan, Towards a

New Model: Media and Communication in Post-Conflict and Fragile

States (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Communication for Governance & Accountability Program, Development Communication Division, External Affairs, 2008), p. 54.

  1. Communication for Development: Strengthening the Effectiveness of the United Nations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the World Health Organization, 2011), p.7.
  2. Alberto Cutillo, Deploying the Best: Enhancing Training for United Nations Peacekeepers (New York: International Peace Institute, 2013).

By Spencer Beall

By 2020, the number of Internet-enabled devices, also referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT),
is expected to exceed thirty billion.2 The number of security breaches alone is anticipated to
incur a global cost of six trillion dollars per year by that time, increasing from three trillion in
2016.3 While the cybersecurity industry will require approximately six million workers to meet
its projected job demand by 2019, many positions will remain unfilled without more female
cybersecurity professionals. 4 Currently, women comprise only 11 percent of global
cybersecurity professionals. 5
Women’s underrepresentation in cybersecurity is not just an economic workplace issue,
but also has a profound impact on the type of technologies being developed and hence impacts
everyone in the digital age.
In this report I will explore some of the main barriers that impede women’s entry,
professional advancement, and retention in cybersecurity, including the pervasive gender
discrimination in technology professions. Next, I will examine three core reasons why it is
essential to get more women in cybersecurity, namely (1) to maximize innovation potential; (2)
to expand usability of digital products to meet the needs of all consumers; and (3) to strengthen
the global economy by fulfilling the cybersecurity industry’s rapidly growing job demand. Finally,
I will present recommendations how to dismantle the gender gap in cybersecurity and how to
create in the digital age a global workforce that is safer, more efficient, and more prosperous.

1 This report relies largely on data from the gender gap in the American cybersecurity sector, in part because of the
availability of research, and because the U.S. remains a strong prototype for analyzing the causes and effects of the
global gender gap in cybersecurity. Not only does the U.S. employ slightly higher than the global average number of
female cybersecurity professionals yet exhibit the same shortcomings in product innovation and efficacy as foreign
cybersecurity industries, the American cybersecurity firms also illustrate many of the common difficulties that
women experience entering the field around the world. 2 Internet enabled devices (IoTs) include all technology that relies on Internet and/or cellular data to function,
including but not limited to: computers, smartphones, GPS devices, social media platforms, home security systems,
power grids, smart appliances (e.g. refrigerators, televisions, thermostats), cars and airplanes. See also Steve
Morgan, ed., “Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global cybersecurity spending will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to
2021,” Cybersecurity Ventures (May 31, 2017), accessed June 7, 2017, 3 Steve Morgan, “Cybersecurity Industry Outlook, 2017 to 2021: Key economic indicators for the cybersecurity
industry over the next five years,” Cybersecurity Business Report, CSO (Oct. 20, 2016), accessed June 6, 2017,
Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global cybersecurity spending will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021, supra. 4 See Roy Maurer, “Why Aren’t Women Working in Cybersecurity?” Society for Human Resource Management (Jan,
10, 2017), accessed June 18, 2017, and Steve Morgan, “Cybersecurity Industry
Outlook, 2017 to 2021: Key economic indicators for the cybersecurity industry over the next five years,”
Cybersecurity Business Report, CSO (Oct. 20, 2016), accessed June 6, 2017,
5 Elizabeth Weingarten, “The Gender Gap in Cybersecurity Jobs Isn’t Getting Better,” Slate (Mar. 17, 2017), accessed
June 5, 2017,
Weingarten cites the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity. According to the
Study, women’s representation in the North American cybersecurity industry (14 percent) is only slightly higher
than this global average.

Women In International Security (WIIS)
Where Are the Women?
Cybersecurity professions are defined as “any occupation that ‘plans [or] carries out security
measures to protect an organization’s computer networks’” from data breaches via hacking or
the spread of malware. 6 Cybersecurity ensures that our airlines, power grids, nuclear plants,
emergency communications systems (e.g. 911 and FEMA alerts) and other essential national
security technologies are protected from malicious attacks. Cybersecurity plays a critical role in
the development of apps, electronic services and IoT devices that shape our daily lives. Our
phones, online shopping platforms like Amazon, electronic banking systems, medical record
storage systems, video and music streaming services (e.g. Netflix, Spotify), social media (e.g.
Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram), home security systems, smart refrigerators, and thermostats
are dependent on cybersecurity.7
Considering that modern society depends on cybersecurity for nearly every aspect of
daily life in the digital age—to work, shop, travel, communicate, form relationships, protect our
health, keep ourselves safe from terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other calamities, etc—it
is surprising that women, who represent 50 percent of the global workforce, comprise only 11
percent of global cybersecurity professionals. What makes this statistic even more remarkable is
that women—not men—built the foundations for the cybersecurity industry that we have today
by programming the world’s first computers. In addition, studies show that 52 percent of women
under age 29 hold a computer science degree, and when women enter cybersecurity they do so
with overall higher education levels than men.
So, why are there so few women in this field? There are at least five main reasons for the gender
gap in cybersecurity.
(1) Stereotypes that identify cybersecurity as a masculine industry
Computer science, along with math and engineering, is widely typecast as a masculine
field across almost all cultures around the world. We need only look at how any
association between “women” or “girls” and the topics, “cybersecurity,” “computer
programming,” “coding,” “software development,” “Silicon Valley,” and “technical
engineering,” consistently garners attention in newspapers, magazines, and the movie

6 Katharine D’Hondt, Women in Cybersecurity, Thesis for Master in Public Policy (2016), Harvard University John F.
Kennedy School of Government, 7 (citing Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015) 7 See Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s concurring opinion in United States v. Jones (2012): “[We live in]…the digital age, in
which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out
mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that
they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books,
groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers.” Sotomayor, J. (concurring opinion), United States v.
Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012). 8 Statistics from the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS), conducted by the Center for
Cybersecurity and Education. Heather Riccuito, “Representation of Women in Cybersecurity Remains Stagnant,
Despite Recent Efforts to Balance the Scales,” Security Intelligence (Mar. 15, 2017), accessed June 17, 2017,

Women In International Security (WIIS)
screens for a reason.9 The stereotyping of STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics) as a masculine domain is a recent development, however, as men only
began to dominate the technology profession in the 1980s. From its roots to the near end
of the 20th century, women led computer science. The very word “computer” referred to
people who calculated ballistic trajectories for the U.S. Army. Women not only comprised
the vast majority of these computers, but also those who would develop the world’s first
electronic models. Just over one hundred years after Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
envisioned a machine that could be instructed to calculate sums and produce words and
pictures, six women at the University of Pennsylvania programmed the world’s first
electronic computers.10 With the work of Grace Hopper, Frances Allen, and numerous
other female leaders in the cyber field, women built the foundations for the digital age. 11
Men began to supplant female professionals in computer science only when personal
computers became a lucrative prospect, marketed almost exclusively to men and boys.12
Today, the lack of female cybersecurity professionals has become a prominent discussion
point for women’s empowerment, specifically to promote women and girls’ participation
in STEM education programs to prepare women for jobs of the future in the digital age.13
However, common stereotypes that men are naturally stronger in STEM fields than
women continue to drive down women’s participation in STEM education programs.
Studies spanning the past twenty years have concluded that the so-called “stereotype
threat” (in this case, the phenomenon by which women are culturally conditioned to
believe that men perform better in STEM fields) inhibits women’s entry into STEM jobs

9 Erin Hogeboom, “Encouraging Today’s Hidden Figures in STEM,” Forbes (Feb. 24, 2017), accessed June 9, 2017,
10 See Laura Sydell, “The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech,” NPR (Oct. 6, 2014), accessed
June 7, 2017, and Meeri Kim, “70 years ago, six Philly women became the world’s first digital computer
programmers,” The Philly Voice (Feb. 11, 2016), accessed June 7, 2017, 11 Grace Hopper became one of the first three modern programmers during her career in the U.S. Naval Reserve. She
developed the first computer language compiler, A-0, as well as the first programming system that operated on
English-language commands instead of algebraic code. “Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992): A Legacy of Innovation
and Service,” Yale News (Feb. 10, 2017), accessed June 8, 2017, Frances Allen created security codes and programming languages
for the NSA after becoming the first female IBM fellow, where she developed compilers for IBM super computers.
William L. Hosch, “Frances E. Allen,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed June 8, 2017, 12 Steve Henn, “When Women Stopped Coding,” NPR (Oct. 21, 2014), accessed June 8, 2017,
See also, Mundy, supra. 13 Just after President Trump announced proposals for NASA budget cuts and the elimination of NASA’s education
department—which manages NASA’s efforts to promote women and minority representation in STEM careers—
Ivanka Trump and Betsy DeVos toured the National Air and Space Museum and sponsored a showing of Hidden
Figures to highlight women’s achievements in technology and other STEM fields. Valerie Strauss, “The irony in
Ivanka Trump’s and Betsy DeVos’s push for STEM education,” The Washington Post (Mar. 28, 2017), accessed June 6,

Women In International Security (WIIS)
and success within the profession.14 In one of the first studies on the stereotype threat,
male and female math students were given the same online math exam, with half of the
subjects being told that women may not perform as well because male students are
generally better at math. The difference in scores was striking. Women scored an average
of 20 points lower than men in the group that listened to the stereotype threat, yet there
was almost no measurable difference between male and female scores in the non-threat
group.15 STEM gender stereotyping begins to influence girls and boys in the early stages
of childhood. Recent studies of young children indicated that gender stereotyping in math
and other STEM-related fields affects children as young as four years old, despite minimal
difference in girls’ and boys’ actual capacities.16 If many girls do not steer away from math
and science studies completely as they grow older, girls who aspire to careers in
technology are prone to “dis-identification,” where the “repeated or long-term
[stereotype] threat…eventually undermine[s] aspirations in an area of interest.”17 With
both men and women being “equally likely” to perpetuate gender stereotypes in STEM,
both in the classroom and in the workplace, far fewer women pursue careers in
cybersecurity and advance to high-level positions within the industry. 18
(2) A lack of global investment in female-founded tech companies
When Annamaria Konya Tannon, head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the School
of Engineering and Applied Science at The George Washington University, launched her
first tech startup in 1997, female-founded tech companies received less than four percent
of global venture capital funding. 19 After years of technological innovation that have
brought forth iPods, and multi generations of smartphones and iPads, the current global
investment in female-led tech companies has barely budged, accounting for less than six
percent of venture capital funds.20 Among the 200 San Francisco Bay Area technology
startup companies that received “series A” venture capital funding (between three and 15
million dollars) in 2015, women founded only eight percent of them.21 While women

14 Catherine Hill, Christianne Corbett, and Andresse St. Rose, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics, AAUW (Feb. 2010), 39-40, accessed July 31, 2017, 15 Id. at 40. 16 Christine K. Shenouda, Effects of Gender Stereotypes on Children’s Beliefs, Interests, and Performance in STEM Fields,
Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University (2014), 1, accessed July 31, 2017, In one study where preschool-age children where instructed to replicate patterns
with LEGO blocks, one half of the children were exposed to the stereotype threat in being told that boys can
complete the task faster than girls. Among that group, the girls performed considerably slower than boys, as
compared to the non-stereotype threat group. (Shenouda, 1). 17 Hill, et al., supra note 44 at 41. 18 Shenouda, supra note 44, at 5-6. 19 Konya Tannon forged her way to success in tech startups by working in the Silicon Valley. She is also the Founder
and CEO of Equita Accelerator (a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting women-led tech companies. 20 Women in Innovation: The Perfect Match, Panel co-hosted by the Center for Transatlantic Studies and the Embassy
of Denmark, June 13, 2017.
21 “Why VCs Arent Funding Women-led Startups,” Knowledge@Wharton, Wharton School of Business, University of
Pennsylvania (May 24, 2016), accessed July 31, 2017,

Women In International Security (WIIS)
launch approximately 38 percent of new companies in the U.S., only between two and six
percent of these companies receive venture capital funding.22 According to Katherine
Hays, founder and CEO of ad tech startup, Vivoom, “Male venture capitalists… [mostly] are
very comfortable…giving female entrepreneurs capital for ‘girl stuff’…[like] rent[ing]
dresses or sell[ing] baby wipes as a subscription.”23 Things change, however, when
women ask for venture capital to launch a business in a “masculine” field like tech. The
reasons why women receive lower venture capital funding are circular. The lack of
women in STEM professions based on gender stereotyping of technology fields, coupled
with rampant and gender discrimination within the industry, only perpetuate this
“Every year that goes by where we continue to fund the exact same pool of overwhelmingly
male, overwhelmingly white founders is one where we are missing out on the opportunities
to find important new innovations.”

  • Ethan Mollick, Professor of Management, The Wharton School
    (3) Gender discrimination in the cybersecurity workplace
    Among recent publications discussing gender discrimination in the cybersecurity
    workplace, perhaps no location is more frequently cited across the globe than Silicon
    Valley, the epicenter of America’s tech industry. Liza Mundy, Senior Fellow at New
    America and author of Code Girls, highlighted female professionals’ common
    discrimination across multiple Silicon Valley tech corporations that illustrate why
    women’s entry and attrition rates remain so low in cybersecurity. According to Mundy,
    women in tech face discrimination end-to-end, being hired, paid, promoted, and valued
    significantly less than men.24 Many women cited in recent studies reported that in
    addition to enduring both overt and unconscious gender bias and facing overall different
    treatment than male employees, women’s software designs are “accepted more often than
    men’s… but only if their gender is unknown.”25
    In 2014 Google, Pinterest, Apple, Facebook, and many other Silicon Valley companies
    pledged to devote millions of dollars to change corporate hiring practices and help
    women enter leadership positions.26 Three years later, however, female staffing numbers
    have “barely budged…[with] sexism [remaining] …just as pernicious as ever.”27 In the
    2015 “Elephant in the Valley” survey that polled female tech professionals, respondents
    drew attention to some of the many factors that undermine women’s chances of success
    in tech professions. Among the various data collected, 66 percent of female respondents
    felt excluded from important networking opportunities at their companies because of

New York-based startup companies only fared slightly better, with female-led startups accounting for 13 percent of
venture capital recipients. Id. 22 Id. (citing Ethan Mollick, Professor of Management at The Wharton School) 23 Id. 24 Liza Mundy, “Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?” The Atlantic (Apr. 2017), accessed June 9, 2017,
25 Id. 26 Id. 27 Id.

Women In International Security (WIIS)
their gender, 75 percent of women faced questions about marital status and family
commitments during hiring interviews, and 88 percent of respondents experienced
persistent unconscious gender bias from male colleagues.28 From the lack of meaningful
change in gender discrimination in the technology profession, it is no surprise that
women leave cybersecurity over twice as frequently as men.29
(4) Laws and policies that promote gender discrimination
Approximately 90 percent of countries around the world enforce laws that discriminate
against women. Many of these laws and policies (both secular and religious) have helped
create and enforce gender discrimination in the cybersecurity profession by undermining
women’s advancement in social and economic roles in other sectors. In India, for example,
because labor laws “protect existing [male] workers at the expense of aspiring ones,
which include most women,” women represent only 30 percent of India’s labor force.30 In
other countries like Saudi Arabia, religious laws significantly undermine female agency.
Strict applications of Sharia law prohibit women in Saudi Arabia from interacting with
men outside of their families, to the degree that most businesses, banks, and other public
areas have segregated entrances for men and women.31 When laws prevent women from
interacting with men outside family members, they effectively preclude women from
becoming valued members of the workforce.
(5) Corporate practices that cater to male professionals
Some corporate practices that contribute to a reduced female presence in cybersecurity
professions include: failures to set and maintain gender quotas (both in hiring and
retention); unwillingness to specifically attract and recruit more female professionals;
and under-investigation of employee gender discrimination claims and/or not enforcing
zero-tolerance workplace discrimination policies.

28 Trae Vassallo, Ellen Levy,, Elephant in the Valley, 2015 Survey, accessed June 9, 2017, Some examples of unconscious gender bias include: having questions
directed to male colleagues even when it was within a female employee’s area of expertise, and asking women to
perform low-level tasks that men are not asked to do. 29 Mundy, supra. 30 Dhruva Jaishankar, “The Huge Cost of India’s Discrimination Against Women,” The Atlantic (Mar. 18, 2013),
accessed July 31, 2017, As another example, due to India’s longstanding customs of giving
preferential treatment (e.g. education) to boys rather than girls, approximately one-third of women in India are
illiterate, further undermining women’s opportunities for professional advancement. Id. 31 “Seven Things Women in Saudi Arabia Cannot Do,” The Week (Sept. 27, 2016), accessed July 31, 2017,

Women In International Security (WIIS)
Two Minds Are Better Than One:
Three Reasons Why We Need More Women in the Cybersecurity Workforce
(1) Maximizing innovation potential
If the number of female professionals in cybersecurity remains stagnant, it will restrict
both cybersecurity development and the quality of our digital products.
Because men and women are born with equal talent capacities, talent is drawn
from the same distribution. When societies artificially constrain one-half of the
distribution (e.g. via laws, customs, and/or religious beliefs that drive gender inequality)
we lose one-half of the global workforce’s creativity.32 Diversified taskforces with “fresh
ideas…to address ever-evolving problems” are more vital than ever in the digital age,
when the threat of cybercrime continues to grow. If the security of one of our IoTs,
electronic services, apps, or other digital products is compromised, the security of other
devices is prone to breach, exposing users to incalculable dangers within hours, or even
minutes.33 Having a more diversified design team that reflects products’ actual users is
critical to account for how consumers use/misuse products, what user needs and
interests the product does not meet, and how to optimize product security. According to
Sarah Geary, senior cyber analyst at FireEye, a hacker only has to target one person’s
device to debilitate “…an entire business or government…” Because we live in an age
when foreign governments are targeting individuals more frequently, “… it’s a problem
when those who are designing cybersecurity products or interventions aren’t
representative…” of the population that uses them.34 Studies indicate that because women
suffer higher rates of online harassment (particularly sextortion35 and cyberstalking)36
women are more likely than men to utilize stronger privacy settings on social media apps
and Internet platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp).37 Women, therefore, can
contribute different ideas for designing new more user-friendly digital platforms stronger
privacy features, which would both provide a better variety of privacy protection options
to consumers and help companies adhere to best practices on managing information
privacy.38 According to Annamaria Konya Tannon, head of the Innovation and
Entrepreneurship for the School of Engineering and Applied Science at The George

32 Kalpana Kochhar, Speaker at the Panel, Women in Innovation: The Perfect Match, co-hosted by the Center for
Transatlantic Studies and the Embassy of Denmark, June 13, 2017.
33 Bruce Schneier, Your Wi-Fi Connected Thermostat Can Take Down the Whole Internet. We Need New
Regulations,” The Washington Post (Nov. 3, 2016), accessed July 31, 2017, (citing a paper discussing how
hackers can create an IoT worm that can instantly infect thousands of other IoT devices. Eyal Ronen, Colin O’Flynn,, “IoT Goes Nuclear: Creating a ZigBee Chain Reaction”)
34 Weingarten, supra, note 9.
35 Laurie Segall, “A disturbing look inside the world of online sextortion,” CNN Money (June 23, 2016), accessed June
8, 2017, 36 The 2016 Bureau of Justice Statistics report indicated that women comprised 41 percent of reported stalking
victimizations, outnumbering the 31 percent of reported male victimizations. “Stalking,” The Bureau of Justice
Statistics (Feb. 17, 2016), accessed June 8, 2018, 37 Weingarten, supra, note 9. 38 Id.

Women In International Security (WIIS)
Washington University, “When you have a gender balanced team, research shows that you
have more optimal outcomes and come up with more creative ideas. Men need to be
there, and women do too.”
“Why would you eliminate the brilliance of 50 percent of the population?”
-Joyce Brocaglia, CEO of Alta Associates, a cyber executive search firm39
(2) Expanding usability
Having more women in cybersecurity design and development labs will ensure that
existing conversation engines on smartphones (e.g. Siri, Cortana), apps (medical, social
media, lifestyle, etc.), and other digital platforms for shopping, social media, data storage,
etc. will be better equipped to meet more consumers needs outside of the male profiles
that created them, specifically women and children.
Scientists have already discovered “the white guy problem” in artificial
intelligence, whereby machine learning algorithms that form predictions based on large
amounts of existing input data introduce gender as well as racial bias in decisionmaking.40 Algorithms that form the basis for a wide variety of mobile and Internet
services—from electronic job application systems to conversation engines like Siri on
smartphones—function solely based on the initial data programmed into them, which the
algorithms accumulate to make decisions later.41 When almost exclusively all-male design
teams create these algorithms, Siri and other related technologies operate on single sex
aggregated data, resulting in products that are most user-friendly to the sex that created
them. According to a 2016 JAMA Internal Medicine study, although Siri could provide
gender-neutral medical advice in response to “Siri, I’m having a heart attack,” Siri was
unprepared to provide assistance on female health and safety issues such as sexual
assault and domestic violence. Among four smartphone conversation engines (Siri,
Cortana, S Voice and Google Now) on sixty-eight phones, the study found that only
Cortana was able to provide the National Sexual Abuse Hotline number in response to the
message “I was raped.”42 Siri replied instead: “I don’t know how to respond to that,”
indicating that male design teams did not think this data was important enough to
program. 43 A more diverse design team might have included this information.
Clearly, the discrepancy from having a design team that doesn’t accurately
represent the needs and interests of the total consumer population can put users at
significant risk.
The same problems from a male-dominated cybersecurity industry extend to other
types of apps and digital features. Imagine if men represented 93 percent of the design

39 Id. 40 Hannah Devlin, “Discrimination by algorithm: scientists devise test to detect AI bias,” The Guardian (Dec. 19,
2016), accessed June 18, 2017, 41 Id. 42 Alice Park, “Here’s How Siri Responds to ‘I was raped,’” (Mar. 14, 2016), accessed June 8, 2017, 43 By contrast, Siri had no trouble interpreting to certain health inquiries that exclusively affect men. The statement,
“Siri, I have erectile dysfunction,” immediately presented a list of nearby clinics and physician recommendations.

Women In International Security (WIIS)
teams that developed women’s undergarments, clothing, footwear, makeup, hygiene
products, and hair care. This represents the current state of app development.
Women represent only six percent of app developers, despite comprising 50
percent of the app-using population.44 Women have helped create apps like bSafe that are
specially designed for women and girls’ interests and physical needs, including services
designed to help protect women against sexual assault and dating violence. 45 Without
greater female involvement, however, products like these that are designed with women
in mind will remain limited.
A more gender-balanced cybersecurity design team can also help create more
product features to protect children online.46 It may be easy to overlook children within
the global consumer pool for apps and other digital products, but children represent a
significant portion of users of some of the most popular social media apps (e.g. Snapchat,
Kik, Whattsapp) and Internet services (e.g. Google, Bing). According to a 2015 survey, the
average American child receives his or her first cell phone at age six.47 Three-quarters of
the children surveyed also had tablets to access the Internet.48 Similar research conducted
in the UK indicated that more than half of children use at least one form of social media by
age 10.49 Because children are using smartphones and Internet-enabled devices at
increasingly young ages, mothers, female caregivers, and teachers may have a closer ear
to what apps, games, and website features children are using, or may begin using. As
women are already more likely to use stronger privacy protections than men on social
media platforms, women can have a particularly important role in designing privacy
features to help monitor children’s activity and receive alerts to suspicious online
With more women designers, products will become more user-friendly for all
consumers, and it may help save lives.50

44 David Bolton, “Survey, Only 6% of App Developers Are Women,” Arc (Feb. 27, 2016), accessed June 15, 2017,
45 bSafe provides discrete assistance to girls and young women in a variety of situations—from automatically
alerting a list of family members and friends if the user indicates that she is in danger, to providing a fake telephone
call to help a user leave an uncomfortable date or social situation.45 Similar apps could be developed that would
serve as community alerts for the public to report suspicious activity of sex trafficking and domestic violence. Some
of these products include, Spitfire Athlete (providing personal training assistance to women based on exercise
regimens of female athletes), and Hey! VINA (an app to help women cultivate same-sex friendships and develop a
sense of community among female users). Jenavieve Hatch, “Behold, A Tinder-Like App for Female Friendships:
Because Finding New BFFs is just as important as finding a date,” Huffington Post (Feb. 01, 2016), accessed June 8,
46 For the purposes of this report, “children” is used to refer to any person under age 18, in accordance with the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international legal instruments. Convention on the Rights of
the Child, Nov. 12, 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3. Art. 1, 47 “Study Finds Average Age Of Kids When They Get First Cell Phone Is Six,” ABC 13 Eyewitness News (April 7, 2015),
accessed June 8, 2017, 48 Id. 49 The Daily Mail Reporter, “More than half of children use social media by the age of 10: Facebook is the most
popular site that youngsters join,” The Daily Mail (Feb. 5, 2014), accessed June 15, 2017,
50 Across the globe, teaching remains a female-dominated profession. In the U.S. alone, women represent 75-80
percent of kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers. Motoko Rich, “Why Don’t More Men Go Into

Women In International Security (WIIS)
(3) Strengthening the global economy
Even though women account for 50 percent of the global workforce, women form only 11
percent of the global cybersecurity industry, remaining the most underrepresented
taskforce in the global economy. With cybersecurity itself becoming one of the largest
global businesses in the upcoming years, countries stand to lose more than one may think
if more women are not brought into the workplace. The International Monetary Fund
(IMF) recently conducted research to observe the relationship between a lower women
taskforce and national gross domestic products (GDPs) to see the shortage of female
professionals on countries’ economies. While the United States (which has a slightly
higher than global average percentage of women in cybersecurity) could lose 12-14
percent of its GDP, other countries like South Korea could lose 19-20 percent.51
Understanding that 209,000 cybersecurity positions went unfilled in 2015, global
economic growth does not look promising when this demand will increase to six million
positions by 2019.52 Without more women to close this gap, 1.8 million global positions
will remain unfilled by 2022, significantly threatening the progress of cybersecurity in a
time when the world depends upon it most. 53
“…[S]hutting women out of [cybersecurity], intentionally or unintentionally, is like keeping them off
the factory floor at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”54
—Anne Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America.
With persistent efforts to combat the social attitudes, gender stereotypes, and unconscious
biases that perpetuate gender discrimination, and with the development and adoption of
appropriate corporate, law, and policymaking strategies, we can resolve the gender gap in
cybersecurity. Many believe that greater investment in STEM education is the keystone in closing

Teaching?” The New York Times, (Sept. 6, 2014), Even in seemingly gender-neutral situations, such as, “Siri, I think I’m having
a stroke,” men and women’s experiences of the same medical condition can be very different, and the conversation
engine may not be able to recognize certain symptoms that affect women more than men. For example, a female
voice input, “Siri, my arm hurts,” may be a common sign of a stroke for many women that men might never
experience. Increased women’s involvement in programming conversation engines can help improve this
technology to keep more users safe. “Women and Strokes: Unique Risks and Uncommon Symptoms,” The Dr. Oz
Show (Jan. 14, 2013), accessed June 7, 2018,
51 Kochhar, supra, note 11.
52 “Cybersecurity Industry Outlook, 2017 to 2021: Key economic indicators for the cybersecurity industry over the
next five years,” supra, note 3
53 Weingarten, supra, note 9.
54 Eli Sugarman, “Women in cybersecurity: 4 questions for New America’s Anne-Marie Slaughter and Megan Garcia,”
Interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter and Megan Garcia, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation (Nov. 16, 2015),
accessed June 6, 2017,

Women In International Security (WIIS)
the gender gap in cybersecurity.55 The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study,
Women in Cybersecurity, reported that 52 percent of millennial women under age 30 are
educated in computer science.56 However, while education is a promising fixture it is not going to
single-handedly push women into the profession, or make them stay.
Education alone is not going to solve this problem. For example, although more women are
now graduating with degrees in law and medicine than ever before, it does not mean women
receive equal treatment in their field, or that women have equal attrition rates in the labor force
as men.57 An American Community Survey presenting data from 2008 to 2010 showed that
women are still more likely than men to leave the workforce as early-career lawyers and doctors
(between ages 25 and 44).58
To strengthen women’s leadership in cybersecurity three things need to change:
(1) Social attitudes, gender stereotypes and unconscious bias
“The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”

  • Grace Hopper59
    Eliminating the ingrained social attitudes, gender stereotypes, and unconscious bias that prevent
    women from entering and advancing in STEM fields is critical to bringing more women into
    cybersecurity. Beginning as children, parents need to groom young boys to be better supporters
    of women later in life so that we can finally retrain the way we work together. “Supporting
    women has been dangerously equated with being less masculine,” says Ryan Ross, Program
    Director for the Halcyon Incubator that supports developing startup ventures. We have to work
    as a culture to change that. Both men and women have equal responsibilities to help reverse
    social attitudes and gender stereotypes and bias.
    Some critical steps include:
  • Acknowledging that gender discrimination is a continuing problem. In the words of
    Linda Kozlowski, Chief Operating Officer of Etsy, “Progress is difficult ‘if people don’t

55 In signing two bills into law to promote women’s enrollment in STEM fields, President Trump’s remarked that”…It
is going to change, and it’s going to change very rapidly.”
Melanie Arter, “Trump Signs Bills Supporting Women Entrepreneurs and Women in STEM Fields,” CNS News (Feb.
28, 2017), accessed June 8, 2017,
56 Weingarten, supra, note 9.
57 In addition to the pay gap as professionals, women are rarely accepted to top education programs equally with
men. Although women who pursue higher education are more likely to attend medical or law school, they comprise
less than 50 percent of the students at the top law schools. Debra Cassens Weiss, “Men Outnumber Women at Most
Top Law Schools, But the Imbalance Is Greater at B-Schools,” ABA Journal (May 09, 2011), accessed June 8, 2017,
_greater_at/. Philip Cohen, “More Women Are Doctors and Lawyers Than Ever—but Progress Is Stalling,” The
Atlantic (Dec. 11, 2012), accessed June 8, 2017,
58 Id.
59 Charles Grosch, Library Information Technology and Networks, CRC Press (1994), 183 (quoting Grace Murray
Hopper in her 1987 interview, Information Week, Mar. 9, 1987, 52)

Women In International Security (WIIS)
believe there’s a problem.’”60 A recent survey of 13,331 adults across the U.S. showed
that the majority of men (58 percent) believe that “all obstacles [to the professional
gender gap] had been eliminated,”61 compared to 60 percent of women who claimed
that the gender gap remains a persistent challenge.62 If men and women have such
largely conflicting opinions on the current state and severity of the gender gap,
meaningful change will be slow to come. Men need to recognize that gender
discrimination is a continuing problem in order to address it.

  • Pursuing STEM careers, despite gender stereotypes. With 52 percent of millennial
    women under age 29 having computer science degrees, women are already more
    prepared than ever to enter cybersecurity and other STEM professions. 63 Just as
    women must cut against the pressure to “disidentify” with math, science, engineering
    and other technology related areas of study, men must acknowledge that no field is a
    “man’s field.” 64
  • Schools must increase investment in STEM education for girls and women, and raise
    girls’ awareness of job opportunities in cybersecurity.
    65 According to a 2016 study
    conducted by a UK not-for-profit IT security accreditation organization, the lack of
    female applicants that results from women being less informed of the opportunities
    within STEM professions is a key contributor to the current gender gap in
    cybersecurity. 66 Teachers and guidance counselors have an important role to play in
    inspiring girls to consider careers in tech, a critical step in bringing more women into
  • Both men and women must fight against both overt and unconscious gender
    discrimination in the workplace, through legal action if necessary.
    67 If we are going to
    aspire toward gender equality in the workplace, we need to reiterate what behavior
    and attitudes cannot be tolerated. For Anita Hill and other advocates, class action
    lawsuits are critical to effectuating change “even in the most entrenched, maledominated industries… especially if regulation is not an immediate or viable

60 Laura Entis, “Men Think Obstacles to Gender Equality at Work Are Gone. Women See it Differently,” Fortune (July
18, 2017), accessed July 31, 2017, 61 Id. 62 Id.
63 Riccuito, supra. 64 Shenouda, supra note 44, at 5-6
65 A 2015 ISACA study indicated that neither high school teachers nor guidance counselors mentioned cybersecurity
as a career choice for 77 percent of young women in the survey. Riccuito, supra. 66 Maurer, supra. And Riccuito, supra. 67 Many refer to Ellen Pao’s 2015 gender discrimination lawsuit against Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner
Perkins Caufield and Byers as the pivotal event that inspired female tech professionals to be more vocal in reporting
sexual harassment and gender bias in the workplace. David Streitfeld, “Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case
Against Kleiner Perkins,” The New York Times (Mar. 27, 2015), accessed June 15, 2017, 68 Anita Hill, “Anita Hill: Class Actions Could Fight Discrimination in Tech,” The New York Times (Aug. 8, 2017),

Women In International Security (WIIS)

  • Men and women must support greater female involvement in sectors that regulate or
    otherwise influence the STEM professions, especially in the development and
    implementation of laws, policies, and best practices that regulate the cybersecurity
    industry. (E.g. increasing women’s roles in advocacy for legislation against sextortion,
    revenge pornography, and other cybercrimes that result from product errors or
    design flaws that facilitate compromises in users’ information security). If women
    have a stronger influence in creating the rules that govern cybersecurity product
    development and consumer use, cybersecurity companies will likely benefit from
    drawing women into all areas of its industry, from design labs and development firms,
    to marketing and legal counsel.
    “…[T]hough the numbers of women are small, we are doing some remarkable things…this is an
    exciting time to be in the field.”
    -Andrea Little Limbago, Chief Social Scientist, Endgame.
    (2) Laws & Policies
    A significant part of the effort must come from the national level.69 Legal reform is a critical step
    to bringing more women into all workforce sectors, especially when 90 percent of countries
    around the world enforce laws and policies that undermine women’s social and economic
    agency. Some possible reforms include:
  • Developing national similar to those in the Nordic countries, which promote equal
    representation in the workforce, provide broader access to higher education, and
    longer obligatory paid parental leave programs.70 While the Nordic Model is not
    perfect, it remains the forerunner of gender equality in the technology industry.
  • Offering federal tax breaks to companies who promote women’s hiring and
    advancement in leadership positions.
  • Establishing government-regulated quotas, requiring tech companies to hire and retain
    a set number of female professionals. For Kalpana Kochhar, quotas are critical. In
    1993, India amended its Constitution to require that one-third of local selfgovernment seats must be filled by women. The results were drastic. The number of
    female leaders in government, business, and other sectors dramatically increased
    because women were more likely to compete for elections and higher positions of
    authority, and parents developed much higher aspirations for their daughters, leading
    to better educational opportunities.71

69 Ulla Rønberg, Senior Visiting Scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Women in Innovation, The Perfect
Match, supra. 70 Id. 71 Kochhar, supra.

Women In International Security (WIIS)
“In the 4th Industrial Revolution that’s upon us, requiring laws and policies that advance women’s
roles should be the heart of our preparations… After all, jobs of the future will be much less focused
on brawn, and much more focused on brain.”
–Kalpana Kochhar, Director of HR at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
(3) Corporate Practices
There are many initiatives that corporations can and should take in order to attract more
women in cybersecurity, including:

  • Specifically asking for female applicants: According to Ryan Ross, Program Director
    for the Halcyon Incubator that supports developing startup ventures, “the second you
    put out that specific ask, women are not only more inspired to apply, but both men
    and women are more likely to refer female candidates.” When Ross’ started asking for
    female professionals, women’s application rate doubled. From having more women
    on the taskforce, 50 percent of the Incubator’s startups now have a female founder or
  • Sponsoring more female professionals to ensure that both men and women receive
    equal professional development support in their industry.72 Professionals with senior
    member mentors (“sponsors”) are 23 percent more likely than people without
    sponsors to advance in their careers, and men are much more likely than women to
    secure sponsors in all professional fields.73
  • Setting permanent gender hiring and retention quotas, to ensure that more women are
    given equal opportunities as job candidates and that the workplace becomes a climate
    where female professionals want to work.
  • Maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for gender discrimination. Some strategies include:
    sponsoring mandatory training workshops on unconscious bias and sexual
    harassment for every new hire (male or female); conducting regular anonymous
    surveys on workplace climate to provide employees with frequent no-risk
    opportunities to report gender bias/discrimination, increasing female staff in Human
    Resources; administering thorough investigations of each report of gender
    discrimination/bias through a gender-balanced investigation team; and sending a
    public message of zero-tolerance to other corporations by immediately responding to
    employee conduct that promotes gender bias with appropriate penalties, following

72 Katy Zurkus, “Despite the gender barriers, women must persist in cyber,” CSO Online (Mar. 21, 2017), accessed
June 17, 2017, 73 Jane Porter, “Yes, Gender Equality is a Men’s Issue,” (Sept. 26, 2014), Fast Company, accessed July 31, 2017,

Women In International Security (WIIS)
Google’s recent example in addressing an employee’s challenge to the company’s
diversity efforts.74
“My vision for the future is for us to embrace the technological change that’s upon us and to build a
workplace to match it, where men and women are equally hired, paid, and valued for their
–Kalpana Kochhar, Director of HR at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
While the lack of female cybersecurity professionals has been a prominent discussion point for
women’s empowerment in modern culture and media, many of these discussions focus
exclusively on the pervasive obstacle of gender discrimination that prevents women from
building a presence in the cybersecurity industry, highlighting, for example, the workplace
barriers to female professionals in the Silicon Valley. Understanding that gender discrimination
is by no means unique to this field, it is important to underscore that women’s
underrepresentation has larger effect on cybersecurity as a global industry, even more so than
other professions.
Focusing solely on the persistent issue of workplace gender dynamics in tech labs
detracts attention from other important problems that result from a diminished female presence
in cybersecurity, from the development and security of the technology that controls how we live
and keep us safe, to the health of the global economy. The gender gap in cybersecurity is not an
insurmountable problem, however. With dedicated initiatives to dismantle gender stereotypes,
reshape discriminatory laws and policies, and implement new corporate strategies to help
women enter cybersecurity, we can all become smarter in the digital age.