Women in cyber: how do we change the pattern?

Women in cyber: how do we change the pattern?

Women in tech and encouraging girls to study science

Oh dear it’s not been a good week for the RSA, who could only find one female keynote speaker out of a lineup of twenty.

We could talk at length about the lack of diversity in the larger tech space which is mainly accountable for the shortage of women in cyber. But for now, in honour of International Women’s Day, let us focus on the women who are in the field, making things happen.  

If we are going to change the pattern and inspire young girls to go into the industry, then we need to focus on the female role models who are already out there. Because they do exist. Really. And here are just a few voicing their views about how to close the industry’s gender gap. 

Tara O’Sullivan, CCO, Skillsoft

“Tech and cybersecurity are infamously known as ‘boys clubs’.  White, middle-class males dominate the industry.  These are the men responsible for the hiring, promotion and retention of women in cybersecurity.  But with women still making up a tiny 11% of the cybersecurity workforce, according to Veracode, attention to diversity is still lacking.  

The reasons for this are multiple.  Tech and cybersecurity are, on a broad scale, viewed as jobs for men – by women and men, fathers and mothers, CEOs, teachers and so on.  We need a significant cultural overhaul.  A female having a career in cybersecurity needs to become a social norm, not a rarity.  This starts in schools, where we need to encourage girls to have the confidence to do whatever they want, even if traditionally it was seen as ‘boyish’.  

That’s not to say companies can’t take action now.  CEOs, executives and company leaders need to demonstrate their attitude to diversity.  Being outspoken on this creates a culture and shows you stand for equality in the workforce.  Communicating this throughout the whole organisation will ensure the message sticks, and will give women the confidence to take on the roles they want.  Getting female talent into the industry is only half the story.  We need to make sure they have the confidence and support to progress through their own careers.”  

Also of interest: Should a music degree stop you from a career in cyber security?

Marianne Calder, VP, EMEA, Puppet

“2018 has already seen a brighter light being shone on issues surrounding women and inequalities in the workplace. While huge progress has been made, there is still a lot more to be done to close the gender gap. 

Small changes, from ensuring a diverse pipeline for recruitment to create a diverse team to then implementing a mentoring programme to support employees through every step of their career progression, can make a big difference in creating a balanced talent pipeline. It is time we stopped just talking about the gender gap and instead focused on what can be, and is being, done to close it. By achieving this, organisations will ultimately be the ones that benefit.” 

Yumi Nishiyama, Director of Global Services, Exabeam

“Having been in tech for many years now, I can see the gender shifts taking place in small, but very meaningful, ways. There are very concerted efforts being made to create communities of women, for the advancement of women, encouraging women to get into tech early on in their lives and then fostering their professional development.  

Another way to change the field is by embracing all diversity. I have extremely successful female friends who are senior tech execs, but they have forsaken many other parts of their lives to get where they are. Now, companies are embracing policies that provide women, and really everyone, with benefits that allow them to have better balance with “life”, and not have to choose between a completely bifurcated path of having a family or having a career.

You no longer need to wear a suit or act in a certain way to be deemed successful. The resulting diversity in the workplace makes us so much richer. In short, the more encouragement we can give to each other to embrace and enable success in one another, the better we all are.”

Also of interest: GDPR: the challenge to the public sector

Shantayne Augustine, Marketing Director, Fuzzy Logix

“I am proud to be a female working in the technology sector.  It’s an exciting, fast-paced sector, but is sadly still very male dominated, partly due to the alarmingly low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at college.  I cannot emphasise enough to any young female starting out on their career today that they must remove any barriers – real or perceived – about the ‘difficulty’ of working in this sector.

Sure, you have to be strong, but then we as women are just that, aren’t we?!  I sincerely hope I have become something of a role model to those around me considering their career options; I cannot recommend it highly enough for a rewarding career during which you never stop learning.” 

And with that, here’s to closing the gender gap and celebrating diversity in its many forms. Happy International Women’s Day 2018!

Have you read: Is it time to trust AI powered security?

Copyright Lyonsdown Limited 2021

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