BlackHoodie is a series of technical trainings aiming to attract more women to the field of cyber security
Our events are women-only, except if individual organizers state otherwise
Whether introduction level or advanced, classes are always challenging
All of our events are free to attend
We do not exert any preference in education level, occupation or corporate affiliation of attendees
BlackHoodie is dedicated to serve the community, we aim to integrate, not separate
BlackHoodie is independent, and cannot be leveraged to promote anything but its own mission
We seek quality over quantity, in number of classes and attendees
We also support/encourage attendees to start giving technical trainings thereby providing a platform to build their confidence
One qualifies to attend an in-person bootcamp either if born and raised female, or if one identifies as a woman. This concept of women-only has no intention of putting up walls or feeling exclusive. Blackhoodie is about creating space in an industry that’s very competitive. It is a comfortable place, where attendees feel encouraged to grow skills without pressure. We do what we do, not to create women-only bubbles, as contradicting as it might sound, but to enable a minority to enter the security space, learn skills that are otherwise expensive to learn, find their interests and grow a professional network.
And, it works. BlackHoodie alumnae have gone far beyond being successful in the classroom since the workshop series started. They ventured out to start community projects and collaborations, got themselves new jobs in the security industry, went to speak at major security conferences, joined review boards and become influencers in our community. Many went on to mentor others after they had found their spot, came back to BlackHoodie to give trainings on their own or are now conference trainers and teach classes to the community.
Finally, why does the security industry need more women at all? The industry is growing and facing a talent shortage. More importantly, jobs are typically well paid, come with certain privileges, and are challenging and often fulfilling. And we do firmly believe our society as a whole can only benefit from having more women with money, independence and confidence. Likewise, the tech sector has grown in size and influence, and with great power comes great responsibility – responsibility best shared among a diverse body of decision makers.
Classes must be challenging
At the core of our mission stands: BlackHoodie is a boot camp for technologists. As important as social bonds are, we are not a social club; our most cherished goal is to teach attendees new skills.
Why, and why is the concept so successful you wonder? There are plenty of women out there who are ready to kill but aren’t sure where to begin – we show them how. The classes are meant to be challenging, we dearly hope no one goes home without having felt well challenged. The combination of feeling comfortable and mastering something challenging is as we believe what makes our events so impactful for attendees, and that in turn keeps attracting even more women to attend our classes. The bootcamps are designed to be difficult and focus on the classes more than the social aspects. It is important to grow our networks, but it is ever more crucial we improve our skills and grow technical confidence.
Events will always be free
By no means will we ever charge for attendance. While we keep trying, we cannot guarantee we can cover food or trips or hotel rooms at all; but we will never ask for money from attendees. In the past we have been very lucky with hosts and sponsors, and almost always managed to get lunch and snacks and coffee supply. However, it might happen you attend an event and we collectively order delivery food 😊
We don’t judge whatever education or affiliation attendees have
The registration process for our events is generally designed to give the same chances to sign up to everyone, regardless whether they are an already skilled engineer at a large company, or a second semester student, or, don’t know, an economics student with great interest in technology and hacking. The idea is, for one, the registration process must be kept simple because scaling is hard. Second, ideally, we have a colorful mix of backgrounds at an event. It is wonderful to see the more experienced attendees lending a hand to their neighbors, and to listen to professionals from other disciplines tell their stories in the coffee break.
BlackHoodie aims to integrate, not separate
Our purpose is to attract more women to the field of security in order to enrich the security community. Counter-intuitively, a women-only space for many women is where for once their gender doesn’t matter. The discomfort of entering a room where everybody else just looks and behaves differently is taken away, which creates an environment where 100% of focus can be dedicated to learning and exploring. Our bootcamps only last one or two days, not enough to condemn the ladies to a bubble, but enough to help them to a kick start in their careers. We network, among each other, and we aim to create bridges to the larger community. BlackHoodie has helped one or another attendee make their way to an infosec conference, we have helped ladies prepare for their first job interview and mentored newcomers on their first CTFs, and our alumnis have ventured out on collaborations with industry residents.
BlackHoodie is independent
BlackHoodie cannot be used to promote any interests, other than its own. We carefully pick collaboration partners and do not generally offer sponsorship opportunities. As an organization, BlackHoodie highly values organizations and individuals willing to support us, but we are vigilant about “selling out” the concept. Sadly, money often comes with strings attached. This doesn’t mean one cannot help us though, if there is any interest in supporting our cause please do not hesitate to reach out!
We seek quality over quantity, in number of classes and attendees
Over the years the interest in BlackHoodie events has skyrocketed, at a 2018 event in Berlin we saw more than 300 women wanting to register. We did not see this coming. Scaling BlackHoodie to a large movement, with global presence, bling bling big business, was never the plan. And meanwhile, how to stay underdog while going international is a special challenge. Hence we decided, we scale in number of events, rather than size of events.
Our events are organized by volunteers, and no one of us is a professional event host. Shuffling 30 attendees is easy, 60 is difficult, more than 60 is hard. We found the following: Classes of 20 to 30 attendees are comfortable, with in-person classes we won’t go larger than this; two classes in parallel is the comfort zone, three is the estimated upper limit. Above a certain number of people, crowds become very challenging to handle in everything from finding a dinner place, to guaranteeing on-site safety. So yeah, we have limited spots to keep an event fun for everyone. The last thing we want is to burn out our volunteers!
Ever been bummed you cannot attend BlackHoodie?
Whether you are not within the event’s target group, whether you can’t travel to the event, the event was full already, or maybe you are just too shy to sign up; you worry not.
If you are serious about getting into security topics, go here: https://www.opensecuritytraining.info/Training.html
A-MA-ZING materials covering a vast selection of topics, including reverse engineering, in more detail than we could ever share, with slides and videos and everything. Mr. Kovah and his companions who put the material together and shared all of it are geniuses, and you go enjoy!
Also, solely attending BlackHoodie does not, to repeat that, NOT, make anyone a specialist. A two-day training simply can’t do this. Whether you become a badass hackerette or hacker is your own achievement. Our goal is to bring complex subjects to the table, give an insight on what this complexity means, how to approach it hands on, foster confidence and curiosity, ideally connect mentors and mentees.
Interested? Here is how you can get involved
Follow us on twitter to learn about the next BlackHoodie training. You can also check-out our website here: https://blackhoodie.re/
Usually, to volunteer or run a BlackHoodie training, we look towards past students. If you are a BlackHoodie alumna wanting to help or run a workshop, start a thread on discord on the volunteers channel or DM on twitter.
If your conference or organization is interested in hosting or supporting a BlackHoodie Training, please reach out to us on twitter or send us an e-mail to blackhoodieboard (gmail..) and we’ll work with you to plan something, if we have the capacity.