International Women's Day 2021: Ralitsa Miteva, OneSpan
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?
“The women workforce in cybersecurity has made major strides over the last few years. In my experience, specifically in the fraud prevention arena, women offer a more analytical perspective by providing a complete look at fraud cases - i.e., creating rules to mitigate risk, summarizing, and resolving issues, and fine-tuning the analytical process. I’ve seen how this skill set is beneficial to fraud detection and tends to be used in most fraud departments which are typically led by women during the last few years. Additionally, these attributes make room for women in the industry, helping to bridge the gender gap. As such, women will continue to forge ahead in the workforce, to create greater diversity that will not only stem the tide of the gender gap – but also create an equal playing field for women to be viewed as “industry experts.”
Where is it heading?
“In the last few years, women account for roughly 20 percent of positions in cybersecurity which will only increase year over year. As women begin to have a seat at the proverbial table, they will receive further opportunities to have an impact and gain visibility in hiring practices, company and industry initiatives, and stakeholders alongside their male counterparts. I’m confident that there will come a time that women will be referenced as industry experts, as opposed to a “woman in tech and cybersecurity.”
How can we get more women involved in cybersecurity?
“I would encourage them to explore topics that truly interest them, especially in mathematics, analysis, technology, and science – as these industries generally tend to be male-dominated. STEM education is a great foray into the cybersecurity field and will allow women to develop the needed skill set to prepare them for those careers. Additionally, I encourage women to leverage social media channels like LinkedIn and seek out cybersecurity groups that consist of both men and women, not just women-specific groups. Of course, it’s important to support our fellow women, but we have to be vocal in male-led discussions as well to be looked at as an equal and qualified industry expert.”
What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
“Even though an industry such as cybersecurity tends to be male-dominated, women shouldn’t be afraid to pursue a position in this field and throw their hat in the ring. There are certainly women that are thriving in the cybersecurity space, and they can too. There is room for women to take space in cybersecurity and continue to establish themselves as leaders. Bringing more women into these roles will further bridge the gender bias gap in cybersecurity well as aid in the undeniable cybersecurity talent shortage and aid in the 41% increase in hiring required to fill the United States’ talent shortage in cybersecurity. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities for women to step into tech-focused roles. This is the time for women to utilize their skill set and show their value to make an impact.”