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International Women's Day 2021: Michelle Killian and Chrysa Freeman, Code42

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 your organization’s Women Leaders in the 2021 Tech Ascension Awards.


Michelle Killian, Information Security Director, Code42:

How has the female workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years? Where is it heading?


We have more females! When I started with my first big team, the company had to create a women’s bathroom because I was their first female hire. Today, almost a quarter of our team at my current company is female (with an amazing female CISO at the helm!). Clearly, a quarter still leaves a long way to go, but we are actively talking to females of all ages – from Girl Scouts to college interns – to encourage more diversity.

“Maybe as exciting, the role that females are playing is evolving. Historically, women almost exclusively were in GRC roles, but today, some of the most vocal and successful hackers and technical wizards are women.

“And it makes a significant difference. At the most basic level, when we diversify by adding more females, we get different perspectives, different ways of working, and different (often better!) outcomes; and, clearly, that is just a microcosm of the value of diversity at a larger level.


Chrysa Freeman, Information Security Program Manager, Code42:


What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?


Women should really work hard not to be intimidated by cybersecurity. Even though the industry leans a bit heavy with males, all my male peers would love to see more women on the scene. And the industry really isn’t as mysterious and tricky as one might think. It is fast moving and full of adventure, though, so if that energizes you, attend more cybersecurity webinars, read more books and follow popular blogs and Twitter accounts. You can learn a lot there and you’ll get a really great feel for what goes on in our world! Some resources we like include:

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