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.
How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years? In the last few years, there has been such a growth in opportunity for a variety of talents and backgrounds to jump into cybersecurity. I did not get a technical undergraduate degree so I often felt like the underdog when working in an environment with predominantly men in highly technical positions. I soon realized I could learn the technical skills on the job and what actually made me the most successful and valuable were my soft skills in communication and creativity.
With the growing need for talent in cybersecurity, women have a great opportunity right now to get involved in whatever vein of cyber they are passionate about, whether that be engineering, training, consulting, or something not yet defined. In time, I found my fit was in cybersecurity training and customer support roles where I enjoyed staying up to date on the cybersecurity threat landscape but focused on facilitating the success of others. What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity? While your first entry-level job might not be your dream job or a perfect fit, these roles will provide you an excellent launching point for future opportunities. I look back at when I first got started in Cybersecurity and had to drag myself to 6 a.m. shifts at our 24/7 incident response center. Being one of only a couple women on the team was uncomfortable and frequently frustrating, but I look back with appreciation at the skills I was able to build in this environment. Beyond the technical skills, learning to become a leader, advocating for myself, and defining an inclusive culture has served me well throughout my career and was well worth those many early mornings. How can we get more women involved in cybersecurity? Women in leadership positions are critical in this effort. There is a lot to be said for seeing someone blaze a trail to inspire others to follow that path. Seeing others like you in positions of authority instills a sense of belonging in the industry.
Additionally, getting more women involved in cybersecurity requires opportunity, which is why I'm so excited to be part of RangeForce where we give accessibility to a variety of audiences to gain skills they may be unable to attain otherwise. Maybe you don't have a technical degree, or perhaps you don't have a degree at all, but does that mean you won't be successful in cybersecurity? I've seen many examples of this being a resounding no. The number one thing I look for when hiring is whether the applicant is inspired by the multitude of challenges there are to solve in cybersecurity and whether they are excited to help solve them. Women are amazing problem solvers and we need them in this fight.