International Women's Day 2021: Stephanie Ackman, Array Information Technology
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.
Stephanie Ackman, Director of Information & Cybersecurity at Array Information Technology:
How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years?
The cybersecurity profession was initially made up of IT professionals that expressed an interest in security. With the number of women in that field being historically less than that of males, consequently the number of women in the cybersecurity profession has also been less. But as the profession has expanded into different focus areas in both offensive and defense arenas, there has been an increase in interest among women – especially for young girls with exposure early on in educational STEM programs. I hope we continue to see this number grow and challenge women already in cybersecurity to be a mentor for other women entering the field. Remember, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Where is it heading?
Cybersecurity is constantly evolving, as are cybersecurity threats. And with the workforce shortage our industry faces, cybersecurity is a national security issue. In the history of our nation, women have stepped in to meet national security needs, the most applicable example being the recruitment and training of women to be codebreakers in WWII. These codebreakers were successful in cracking code providing critical intelligence in the European and Pacific Theaters. Those same recruitment and training approaches need to be dusted off and revamped for cybersecurity needs as we move into the future. Teams working in this profession require diversity in perspective, experience and leadership to ensure the best solutions are implemented to face these threats.
What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
My advice is to approach this industry ready to think outside the box, invest in your education, and take risks. Genuinely show up every day. You will not always be the expert in the room, ask questions. You cannot do everything on your own, ask for help. Ask for feedback, listen and learn from it.