This is part of a running series for #IWD2021. We sat down with women leaders across the industry for a Q&A to get their insights on the state of women in cybersecurity. Recognize Women Leaders in the 2021 Tech Ascension Awards.
Dinah Davis, VP of R&D at Arctic Wolf Networks:
How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years?
Cybersecurity as an industry has only grown in demand over recent years, and as a result, security teams have needed to hire a much higher quantity of talent to meet the demand. The shift we’re seeing at Arctic Wolf is a specific increase in our entry level hires with the goal of training them internally.
For women specifically, historically cybersecurity in general is only 10% female. This is especially prominent in positions that require 3-4 years of experience. While we aren’t seeing a dramatic shift in the percentage of women in cybersecurity in general, we are seeing an increase in women for entry level positions which bodes well for change in the longer term.
Where is it heading?
It is pretty clear that demand for cybersecurity protection isn't going away and will remain a problem in need of a solution. Over the past year specifically, we’ve seen the number of ransomware and data breach attacks skyrocket due to COVID. An increase in at-home work combined with a lack of firewalls has created the perfect storm for increased attacks.
Because demand for cybersecurity only indicates exponential growth, security teams need to figure out how to train people to meet this demand. It is impossible for the current set of security professionals to handle the influx in need, so an expansion in the workforce is inevitable.
What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
Get relevant and stay relevant. Even as a tenured cybersecurity professional, I’m constantly listening to security podcasts, reading articles, and checking my Twitter feed to stay on top of ever-evolving trends in the industry. The world is constantly changing and staying in the know is one of the biggest keys to success.
How can we get more women involved in cybersecurity?
I think what people often miss about working in cybersecurity is that it is a pretty darn exciting job. Because we’re on the bleeding edge of technology, our work is constantly changing. There are a wide variety of roles in cybersecurity as well. It’s more than just hacking, it’s privacy, compliance, things you read about in headlines daily.
Cybersecurity is also a super convenient transition industry. Many college programs are just one to two years long that set you up for entry level security roles. If you have a previous degree and are technical, supporting courses are available to scale up your skills to break into the industry. The opportunities are there for the taking.