This is part of a running series for #IWD2021. We sat down with women leaders across the industry to get their insights on the state of women in cybersecurity. Recognize Women Leaders in the 2021 Tech Ascension Awards.
Micah Goodier Hebert, Threat Analysis Manager, Huntress:
There’s no denying that the cybersecurity industry has a gender problem, but the gap continues to decrease. We’re seeing the definition of cybersecurity expand more and more—bringing both inclusion and a myriad of additional responsibilities. Even if a woman does not actually hold a position in the field, she may be performing cybersecurity functions. With this more inclusive definition of the workforce, it shows that women actually do perform cybersecurity tasks that may not have previously fallen into the traditional type roles—with a number of these roles being in leadership positions. When I was contemplating a career change into cybersecurity, I kept telling myself that there is no limit to my potential and that I could achieve any goal I set for myself. It’s important to have faith in your own abilities and know that you can overcome any challenges. The lack of representation may present some discouragement, however, our perceived "weaknesses" can be used as strengths. And it’s just as important to see female representation in the cybersecurity industry—after all, that’s one of the reasons why the Huntress logo is a woman. I have been lucky enough to work alongside an inclusive leadership team who treats everyone equally and encourages personal and professional advancement. Having a strong culture that promotes female empowerment has personally made an impact in my career. Targeting the younger generation would be effective in getting more women involved in cybersecurity. Introducing female role models, creating cybersecurity clubs, and increasing visibility into the field by allowing students to take courses of interest would be a few suggestions on how we can attract more women. Also, companies can partner with schools and create diversity initiatives to encourage women to join the workforce. Feeling included, encouraged and supported by other women and men in the field makes all of the difference. Computer Science, for example, has the reputation of targeting males. Why? Girls can code, too! It has the stigma of being a more "masculine" culture that unintentionally ostracizes an entire gender. Breaking down those perceived walls by showing equal access to opportunities will help change that narrative for the future.