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.
Maya Gershon, Chief Revenue Officer, Vade Secure:
How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years?
In the Israeli army, we have a very prestigious cyber unit that the youth of Israel strive to be accepted to, and as a country where both men and women go into the army, it serves as an equalizer and diverse incubator for the cybersecurity industry. The graduates of this unit are being hired to key cyber positions even before they are released from the army, and as non-discriminatory unit of our military grows so will the presence of women in cybersecurity. In fact, I am a graduate of this unit. In the global arena, I am also seeing more women CISO, however, this is growing at a slow rate and it’s still not as developed as in the high tech industry. Where is it heading?
I think that slowly, but firmly we are seeing more and more women in cybersecurity. Obviously it’s far from being an equal distribution, but as more women become interested in and gain access to cyber at a young age this will improve. Furthermore, as awareness of cybersecurity increases across every industry, the number of roles/positions will increase and so will the need to look to a more diverse talent pool when hiring. What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
My advice for young women looking to enter into cybersecurity is to do it, and go all in! However, they will also need to remember that they must and can be exceptionally good in this field. Unfortunately, right now, women need to fight a prejudice that we are not techy or knowledgeable enough in cybersecurity, so in addition to just doing our jobs we need to be the best. To achieve this level of success, my biggest tip is for women to keep studying beyond their schooling, be curious, investigate trends, learn from startups, learn from corporates, learn from failures, learn from success -- just keep on learning, all the time. Think of constant ways for improvement. I also think we should lean on and take advantage of each other as the number of women in cybersecurity grows, we have a growing support system and network to leverage. From providing advice through articles like this to mentor programs and encouraging the hiring of more women, there is power in numbers. By adopting these best practices, I believe that the ratio between men and women in cybersecurity will continue to improve, but until then women need to put their best foot forward and be very persistent to be successful – but to be honest, this is always true. How can we get more women involved in cybersecurity?
My main advice for getting more women involved would be aimed at parents – get your girls interested in programming. There are programming games and competitions for kids now, so get your girls exposed to these and open their eyes to the possibilities. You can even work with other parents in your community to get groups of girls together to enjoy programming and cyber-related activities, while helping combat the notion that it’s a “boys club” or not “girly enough.” Such trends and attitudes are expressed to young girls who show an interest in tech, and often influence them to stop exploring these areas. My kids started programming in kindergarten, before they were even able to understand English, and they continue to develop and program games today. I really think it’s a matter of being exposed at a young age in a way that truly equals this arena between boys and girls. There is no reason for cybersecurity to be a thing only boys should enjoy. I also think when explaining cybersecurity to our youth, it’s important to frame it in a fun and exciting way. It’s the constant war between the good and the bad – this is how cybersecurity should be explained to kids, and as such, made fascinating for boys AND girls alike.