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Empowering Diversity: Recognizing the Importance of Women in Engineering and Cybersecurity

The importance of women in engineering (beyond #WomeninEngineeringDay), particularly in the field of cybersecurity, cannot be overstated. Diversity and inclusion are essential for driving innovation, fostering creativity, and solving complex problems effectively. In the traditionally male-dominated field of engineering, women bring unique perspectives, experiences, and skills that enrich the industry and contribute to its advancement. By encouraging and supporting more women to pursue careers in engineering, we can tap into a vast talent pool and bridge the gender gap that has persisted for far too long.

In the specific realm of cybersecurity, women play a critical role in addressing the growing challenges and threats in our increasingly digital world. Cybersecurity requires a diverse range of skills, from technical expertise to critical thinking and communication abilities. Women have proven themselves to be highly capable and successful in this field, bringing a fresh outlook and different approaches to problem-solving. Their presence not only enhances the diversity of thought within cybersecurity teams but also helps to ensure that solutions and strategies are inclusive and consider the needs and perspectives of all users. We heard from women leaders from across the IT and security industries about the importance of women in engineering, advice for women in the fields, and how we can empower them Nicole Bucala, Comcast Technology Solutions, VP and GM, Cybersecurity Suite “Over the past few years we’ve seen more qualified women serve in technical and leadership roles in cybersecurity. Thanks to mentorship from both men and women alike, women who desire to work in cybersecurity will increasingly find a supportive atmosphere. My current position running the cybersecurity business unit at Comcast Technology Solutions is an example of just that, where my leadership team is comprised of 50% women and 50% men. We have a strong group of capable and inventive women and men working alongside each other at breakneck speed to launch a highly innovative solution, and this really speaks to the strides being made for DE&I.” Erin Hamm, Comcast Technology Solutions, Senior Manager, Product Development and Engineering

“My recent experience at the RSA Conference showcased just how many strong women leaders we have across Comcast and within our industry. Among those the team in charge of developing our ground-breaking security data fabric platform, DataBee. There’s still work to be done to build an equitable foundation and environment that enables a stronger female presence within the engineering community at large, but we are starting to see the tides really turn in the right direction. I’m so proud to have had female mentors and male allies throughout my career that have paved the way for a variety of innovation and pushing the envelope of cybersecurity.” Bindu Sundaresan, AT&T Cybersecurity, Director

“As a young woman growing up in Southern India, I was encouraged to pursue a more pragmatic career path by my parents, and my own passions lay in math and problem-solving. Ultimately, this led me to select electrical engineering as my major during my undergraduate experience. From there I explored data networking through internships I pursued during my graduate study. I loved the idea of exploring a field that involved people, processes and technology, and cyber specifically gave me that breadth of opportunity. I was moved by finding solutions to technical problems, and having the ability to explain technical concepts to a non-technical audience.

Something that excited me about the cybersecurity industry, and the STEM field at large, is the push for more inclusivity and diversity. Twenty years ago, I was the only woman in a room full of men - now that ratio has begun to shift. Fortunately, there has even been significant progress in implementing STEM awareness programs and classes within the K-12 curriculum, helping to increase visibility among the minds of the future. One of my biggest pieces of advice for women who are looking to break into, or advance, in engineering or the STEM field more widely, is to be open to any and all opportunities that are presented. More than that, it is imperative to be proactive and ask for various opportunities as opposed to waiting for them to be handed to you. If you see a place where you can contribute, vocalize you are willing to take that task on. This will give you increased visibility among managers and executives and will show that you are a force to be reckoned with. While the initial task may be vague when presented, it is important to look at what the journey can bring you as opposed to focusing on the end destination. You have the power to mold each opportunity and groom them specifically for your professional development. Early on in the journey, it’s also important to find strong mentors that you can lean on for career opportunities, professional advice and expanding your skill set. With such support, the future looks bright for young female minds to break the status quo from decades of underrepresentation.” Shadi Rostami, Amplitude, SVP of Engineering

I have long been used to being the only woman in a room full of male engineers. Prior to college, I ended up being the first girl in Iran to go to the Informatic Olympiad, a yearly competition for high school students competing in one of these topics: math, physics, Informatic, and chemistry. I’ve learned what it means to be ‘the first’ or ‘the only’ in many scenarios, and how that experience can often fuel impostor syndrome. Change takes time, but I would not be where I am today without the mentors who guided me along the way. I believe that we must do more to support women in STEM roles from the time that they are young — change is now in our hands. As part of this change, I encourage people to think holistically about what it means to be a successful engineer. Often, people consider engineering to be only a technical field, but to be a successful engineer, you must also have soft skills on top of technical acumen including empathy for your customers, strong communication, and the will to collaborate. Women have infinite potential to bring these hard and soft skills together to engineering roles, and I look forward to cheering on the next generation of femaleengineers in their career journeys.” Caroline Vignollet, OneSpan, SVP of R&D

“It’s a well-known fact that there is a lack of women in the engineering industry, especially in the high tech, IT, and cybersecurity domains. I think people forget the toll and the unintended consequences a lack of representation and role models can have on those in the industry, especially when starting their careers. When first starting out, a lot of women lack confidence in themselves and their place in the industry. We forget that we deserve to be there. That’s why it’s important to have female mentors, role models, and leaders and why it’s just as important to have male allyship in companies and the industry as a whole. Allyship is often left out of the conversation when we talk about increasing female and minority representation in the tech industry, however, I’ve found that progress happens when you have tough conversations and discuss your differences as well as your commonalities. The needle only moves forward if everyone is pushing.”

Van Phan, Xage Security, Software Engineer

“Women in Engineering Day is an opportunity to appreciate how far female engineers and tech professionals have come and how much more we can achieve. Women in STEM must follow our passions and stay curious!

Here are my four pieces of advice to anyone entering or evolving their career in the field:

  • Learn AI. With AI, I am optimistic that skill sets and careers will grow. It is an enabler for engineers.

  • Embrace your love for technology and constantly seek new knowledge and learning opportunities.

  • Build a strong support network. Connect with other women in tech for mentorship and guidance.

  • Invest in continuous learning. Stay updated with the latest tech trends, tools, and skill sets through online courses.

The community of women in STEM is vibrant and growing. It is important that we lean in and lean on one another to navigate challenges, biases -- and opportunities!”

Sunita Patro, Appfire, Product Engineering Manager

“I developed a keen interest in programming during my academics and that made engineering an easy and natural choice for me. Within the engineering industry, women play an important role in bringing different perspectives and unique ideas to the table. We are keen observers, and are good at managing various projects at the same time, while also keeping the big picture in mind. This is instrumental in the field of engineering, which is focused on problem solving. Women possess the analytical thinking necessary to help strengthen the quality of the deliverable.

For those looking to enter the field, I encourage you to strengthen your core fundamental skills. Know that engineering serves as the core of the software process, and if you have the enthusiasm and passion to strengthen the core, then you will make an impact. And while you have chosen a challenging path, don’t hesitate to seek help from your coworkers when needed.”

Keavy Murphy, Starburst Data, Director of Security

Skills Gap:

“One of the primary benefits of the cybersecurity space for women interested in breaking into the field, is the fact that there exists what is known as the ‘cybersecurity skills gap.’ This means that there are more jobs available than headcount to fill open information security, risk management and data privacy roles. As a result, shifting into the field is far easier to do than in other engineering verticals - and security job openings are rarely impacted by an unpredictable economic climate!”

Leveraging Transferable Skills:

“While there is a gender imbalance in the security space, I strongly believe that this field is one that is especially welcoming to transferable skills. A variety of soft skills and technical skills can be leveraged to develop a career in cybersecurity. Review a security job posting and ask yourself ‘what have I done in the past that would make me successful in this role?’ and tailor your resume to highlight that. I also encourage women interested in breaking into the security, or risk management field to find a reliable mentor, who can advise them on the transferable skills they can leverage to shift into a career in cybersecurity. Switching career paths can be a scary transition, though the cybersecurity industry provides a soft landing: there are plenty of job opportunities and the transferable skills women possess make them ideal candidates for the field of risk management. “

Sonali Mishra, D2iQ, Senior Product Manager

“Growing up and attending school in Mumbai, my computer science classes were filled with a nearly equal ratio of men to women. After relocating to the Bay Area to pursue a Master’s degree and starting my first job in the technology industry, I realized that I was the only woman on the engineering team of more than 60 people, and one of three women in the entire company. It was a major culture shock, and I found myself trying to blend in and hide my differences.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to stop trying to blend in and instead welcome what makes me unique. If you’re the youngest person in the room, the only woman, or feel like you stand out in any way, it’s important to learn how to own your individuality and voice your opinions. Embracing your differences can help you become a stronger leader and utilize your voice successfully. I wish I had known how to do this earlier in my career, and it’s my most important piece of advice for women entering the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field.”



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