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.
Lynsey Wolf, Senior C-InT Analyst, Security and Business Intelligenceat Workforce Cyber Intelligence Company DTEX:
How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years? Where is it heading?
In recent years, we have seen the gender gap in cybersecurity closing, with more learning and growth opportunities for women in the industry than ever before. Within the last year, we’ve even started to see women-only surveys and studies join the fold, like SANS Women in Cybersecurity Survey in 2020. While we are heading in the right direction, inherent gender bias and negative stereotypes remain a big challenge for not only women in cybersecurity, but throughout the STEM field.
What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
The gender imbalance in the field of cybersecurity is one of the main reasons more women don’t pursue careers in the industry. Don’t let these numbers scare you! Some of the most talented people I’ve worked with have been women, you just don’t hear about those successes as often. Whether it’s combating APTs, learning about cyber warfare, or educating end-users, the impact you can have across all levels of security is rewarding. Another common misconception is that advanced technical skills are a requirement for having a successful career in cybersecurity, when in fact, there are many different ways to be successful in the field today. You don’t have to be interested in coding or have a degree in computer science to be impactful.
How can we get more women involved in cybersecurity?
There needs to be a shift in how the field of cybersecurity is perceived. The idea that being “techy” is solely a male trait and that women can’t have a natural aptitude for technical areas is off base. Organizations should actively seek to recruit women, especially those currently enrolled in advanced cyber programs. Additionally, they should look to promote opportunities around networking, training (hackathons, all-girl programs, etc.) and encourage/support mentorships. These are all key areas to focus on.