International Women's Day 2021: Vickie Li, ShiftLeft, Inc.
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? Where is it heading?
Traditionally, information security was a male-dominated industry. Because it is not historically a well-known path, those who were exposed to electronics or hacking at a young age found a niche in the novel field.
Today, continuously emerging resources through the internet and higher education have opened the door to a broader demographic. In addition, development experience or a degree in computer science are no longer required to break into the industry. Diversity is growing, and more women are recognizing and exploring infosec as a promising career.
What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
Being the only woman in the room can be daunting, but you’ll find most people are friendly and willing to offer advice. Take the opportunity to learn from your peers' and superiors’ experiences and make some friends along the way.
Infosec is a rapidly evolving field, so don’t assume that a different background or less experience is a hindrance. The diversity in the field means that while someone may have more experience in a certain track than you, that does not mean they are more knowledgeable than you in every aspect of infosec. We all have something to learn from each other.
Curiosity is more important than any formal training.
How can we get more women involved in cybersecurity?
We should take steps to encourage young girls to adopt hobbies like electronics, computers, and programming. Additionally, early and formal education should expose girls to the career opportunities that exist for them in the field at a young age.
Companies should also make efforts to improve the inclusivity of the workforce. Be aware of your culture and make it friendly to women. Recognize equal work and promote women to managerial roles.