Hacking into Hacking: Gender and the Hacker Phenomenon

  • Alison Adam


Hacking is one of the classic topics of any computer ethics course, yet the way that hacking is overwhelmingly seen as a masculine phenomenon is not often discussed in any level of detail. We tend to take for granted the masculine character of its key players and the form of ethics subscribed to by the hacker community. Therefore hacking appears long overdue for feminist analysis. Women hackers, and whether there are any, has proved to be a fascinating topic. This chapter explores the gender dimensions of hacking in terms of the male domination of hacking, the presence or absence of women hackers, the influence of the frontier metaphor and especially ‘frontier masculinity’. I explore the central tenets of the ‘hacker ethic’ (Himanen 2001), including whether hacker communities are more egalitarian than other communities, the equal opportunities, freedom of information and work ethics of the hacker ethic. Whilst these are all problematic in gender terms there are hints that a female version of the hacker ethic, more explicitly political in motivation, is emerging amongst women hackers.


Equal Opportunity Work Ethic Child Pornography Artificial Creation Information Ethic 
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© Alison Adam 2005

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  • Alison Adam

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