Women make it in a man's world

Updated: 2015-02-05 07:41

By Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Liu Hui spends more than 10 hours a day studying computer systems to analyze their programming and identify online security loopholes.

"I am very fond of information security. Finding a security risk and solving it gives me a huge sense of achievement," said Liu, 25, a PhD from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Liu, a native of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, often gets surprised looks from people when they realize she is studying information security, as it is a specialty mostly taken up by men.

 Women make it in a man's world

Women are starting to play a greater role in identifying online security threats and making the Internet safer for users. Provided to China Daily

"When I explain to people why we should be careful about connecting to Wi-Fi in public places, they always find it amazing that a woman could be interested in the subject," Liu said. "Most of the people in my computing laboratory are men."

According to a report issued last month by security software provider Qihoo 360, about 99 percent of the people who look for online security problems and report them to security platforms are men.

Women may be interested in computing, but few take long-term courses to study the subject, especially in areas related to information security, said the report.

"I was curious about how people solved these loopholes, so I decided to learn about information security when I was a postgraduate," Liu said.

She was initially frustrated by the complicated computer programming. However, once she understood what was involved in cryptanalysis - the analysis of information systems to reveal hidden weaknesses - her enthusiasm for the subject grew.

She enjoys reporting loopholes to the WooYun online security platform.

Women make it in a man's world

"It brings me a sense of achievement," she said.

It takes a week for Liu to solve a security loophole and work out how it occurred.

"I hope to become a 'master hand' who can identify the key problems just by glancing at the programming," she said.

She plans to continue studying programming analysis for another three or four years.

"I'm just a newcomer to the industry and I need to learn more," she said. "I want to make information security my career.

"Although some people view what I do as a man's job, and think women in the field are dull and boring, I clearly separate my work from my life."

On weekends, Liu likes to catch up with TV programs from the United States and watch movies.

Li Hui, 20, from Hainan province, is following a similar path by studying information security at Hainan Vocational College of Political Science and Law in Haikou.

She enjoys discussing information security and its related problems with men.

"We have similar interests," she said. "We love computers, playing online games and competing to find security risks. I don't care if I am the only woman in the information security team of my college."

(China Daily 02/05/2015 page5)