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Empowering Women in Cybersecurity: Bridging the Gender Gap and Enhancing Digital Security

As part of #InternationalWomensDay, we heard from women leaders across the industry about the importance of diversity, how women are contributing to cybersecurity innovation, and what the industry can do to support them. Lynn Dohm, Executive Director, Women in Cybersecurity (WiCys)

“On International Women's Day and throughout Women’s History Month, we reflect on the significant progress made in diversifying the field of cybersecurity. While we celebrate the strides taken to include more underrepresented groups, we're also keenly aware that there is much work left to enhance accessibility and inclusivity in the cybersecurity landscape. With 3.9 million jobs open in cybersecurity and only 24-26% representation from women, the gap is clear. Organizations play a pivotal role in this journey, not just bridging the gap but also ensuring that cybersecurity is enriched by diverse perspectives and talents. We're at a critical point where industry needs to invest in the cybersecurity workforce, not just to build the pipeline, but to avoid the leaky pipe as well.” Nayaki Nayyar, CEO of Securonix

 

"On this International Women's Day, we honor the strides made in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women globally, while also acknowledging the ongoing journey towards greater inclusion and equality. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this progress.

 

However, I recognize that my position should not be considered ‘unique’ in the cybersecurity industry. It's imperative that we strive for a future where diversity in leadership is the norm rather than the exception. While strides have been made, there is still much work to be done.

 

To advance women in cybersecurity, we must prioritize several key initiatives:

 

  • Investing in the next generation: We must prioritize investing in young women from an early age, fostering an environment that actively encourages them to pursue careers in tech and cybersecurity. By providing exposure to diverse role models and highlighting the successes of women in these fields, we can effectively make the industry more accessible and attainable.

  • Sponsorship as the next level of mentorship: While I have been fortunate to have had great mentors who have guided me throughout my career, I believe we need to take mentorship a step further toward sponsorship. We need people to actively advocate and recommend women leaders for positions and pathways that lead to the corner office. It's essential for established leaders to champion the next generation of female talent.

  • Skill-Centric Hiring: The way we work and communicate has changed significantly demanding a shift towards skills-centric hiring. By focusing on the potential and capabilities of individuals rather than solely their credentials, we unlock doors to a more diverse and innovative workforce.

 

Let’s use this International Women's Day as a catalyst for change, a moment to amplify our collective voices in support of diversity and empowerment. Together, we can make the cybersecurity industry, and the world, a more inclusive and powerful place where diversity in leadership is a given, not the exception.” Beatriz Pimenta Klein, Threat Intelligence Analyst at Outpost24

“When fostering inclusion in the workplace, I emphasize the importance of considering intersectional identities, including gender and origins. As a Brazilian woman in cybersecurity, I recognize that the challenges faced by women in different socioeconomic contexts vary significantly. In such regions, urgent policies are needed to improve overall tech literacy. Limited access to information technology intensifies tech underdevelopment, disproportionately hindering young girls from acquiring essential tech skills and impacting women's participation in the industry."

 

"Exposing girls to coding camps, offering gender-focused scholarships, and mentorship initiatives are crucial in these diverse backgrounds where envisioning a career as a woman in tech and cybersecurity may seem distant. Companies can definitely contribute by engaging in community partnerships, gender-oriented internships, and embracing flexible work policies.” Sam King, CEO, Veracode

“The cybersecurity industry has made progress over the last decade with 10% of the workforce being female in 2013 to 25% in 2022. Things are moving in the right direction with more work yet to be done, especially around providing advancement opportunities to women so we see a greater percentage in the C-suite, where there is still a smaller percentage of female representation today. I see a few ways to accelerate the progress of the last decade. First, businesses looking for potential candidates should cast the net beyond STEM backgrounds. From my experience in cyber, there are many useful skill sets that people from a range of backgrounds could bring to the industry. We also need companies and governments to invest more resources into cybersecurity training, internship and apprenticeship programs which can be particularly effective for early stage career candidates. Finally, I believe that one of the most powerful ways to inspire inclusion is through industry networks and support from mentors which is an effective way to elevate the representation of women in senior roles. I have greatly benefited from engaging with and learning from other women in the cybersecurity industry by sharing our experiences and best practices with each other.”

Caroline Vignollet, SVP Research & Development at OneSpan

"Since beginning my career, I believe there’s been considerate progress made regarding howwomenare perceived in the technology industry, and we owe a lot of credit to thewomenin the industry themselves. However, it’s no secretSTEM careers remain male-dominated today. Although Gen Z is more conscientious of the technology skills gap, they are still progressing step-by-step and accepting the fact that we need to take action to challenge the status quo. This can take time, and I do see youngerwomentoday develop this subconscious bias that they don’t belong in technology fields – ultimately placing them on alternate career paths. Aswomen, we must swim against the current and approach opportunities objectively in order to discover our passions and pursue the careers that most interest us."

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