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Women of Cyber: International Women's Day 2022 - Part 1

This is part of a running commentary series for International Women's Day 2022.

March 8 marks International Women’s Day, with this year’s theme being #BreakTheBias. Whether unconscious or not, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead in the workforce, and it is up to everyone to level the playing field.

Regardless of the promises of equality echoing throughout the headlines for International Women’s Day, there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate gender disparities. Women’s equality is forged by those that remind their colleagues to foster an environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. It takes collective action to build social change, and these cybersecurity industry experts celebrate those that are paving the way to gender equality – and provide advice on how the industry can do even better.

Here is a sounding board from women across the cybersecurity industry.

Arti Raman, founder and CEO at Titaniam:

"Upon reflection of my role as a female founder of a tech company, I realize that I am one drop in the bucket in the widespread market of technology founders. Yet when I show up to events, it never ceases to astonish me how rare it is to find other women in this space with me. I have been to conferences where I’ve skimmed through the speaker list and found myself to be the only female in the lineup. When I went to present to the audience of 50, there were two women in the room with me.

This is statistically supported, with women making up 28% of the STEM workforce and research which shows that girls tend to lose interest in sciences and technology subjects when they are as young as 12. One of the most important things I will ever do as a woman is be a role model. That is, to stand where I am, as a proud woman in technology, and to believe in the next generation of girls choosing their careers, and the women already in the workforce with interest in joining the field. I am where I am because people down the line believed in me, and knew that I could do the things I set out to do – from getting my advanced mathematics training to creating my encryption technology to filing for patents to founding the company with those products.

I stand where I am now, with the message to girls and women everywhere that it doesn’t matter what is expected of you or what society tells us we should accomplish based on our gender. I want girls and women everywhere to know that they are good enough, and they can do it. More so, I would love it if you did. I would love to see you here, in this space, with me. We need you." Anne Tiedemann, SVP, people & investor relations at Glasswall:

“International Women’s Day is an important topic - so much positivity comes out of it, but it also highlights that there is so much more to do. It is up to both women and men in leadership positions to push for equal and diverse workforces and support women in their employment. Women need to feel they have the support and encouragement to use their voices and be heard by their colleagues. However, one of the main barriers to women’s equality in tech is attracting talent in the first place. The key to this is early education, exposure, and flexibility. Engaging and sharing experiences with students and other young women will inspire them to follow suit and highlights that women can have successful technology careers. Similarly, providing opportunities to train and explore the industry will engage more young women and open doors for a successful career. Offering benefits, such as flexible working, will also help retain female staff once they are part of the industry. As many of our female staff are mothers, and some of them the sole guardians of their children, it is important that we offer them flexibility in their working routines to balance all aspects of their lives. I am very fortunate to be part of a company run by a CEO who embraces diversity. Since 2016, the number of women at Glasswall has grown by 700%. And this continues to increase - we are seeing much more diverse talent pools. When candidates are equal on every technical measure, we make conscious recommendations to balance the team. After all, we have experienced firsthand that a diverse workforce benefits from better collaboration and improved communication.” Sharon Forder, SVP marketing at Glasswall:

"International Women's Day is an opportunity for women to recognise and be recognised by their peers, creating a forum that empowers women to champion the values females bring to the workplace. Women have many unique qualities which are invaluable in the workplace but are sometimes overlooked including compassion, empathy and ability to multi-task which are often bourne out of the need to juggle multiple roles especially balancing home / work / family duties. "I think some of the barriers for women entering tech are the perception that it remains a male-dominated sector and this starts from the shape of the leadership team down. If I reflect on all the tech companies I have worked with over a 25 year period, roles such as engineering, sales and executive leadership are still heavily male influenced. Promoting women leaders in tech and championing the opportunities tech provides for women across all functions is an important part of helping to make tech more attractive to women. Create a culture that embraces flexible working, articulates the importance of work / life balance and discourages the ‘always on’ mindset that can be prevalent in tech. "Using language that is female inclusive and draws out the benefits in job descriptions is also key. Practising what you preach by actively promoting females into leadership roles and helping them to become part of the ‘face of the company’ will contribute to breaking down the long-standing perceptions of ‘it's a male-dominated sector’." Andrea Edmonds, CPA, CGMA, chief financial officer at Cyber Security Works:

“I have been engaged in information technology for the last 25 years. With the growth of the global internet of things, it was clear that a robust cyber defense was necessary. I spent the first 20+ years of my career at Arthur Andersen, PwC, and Intel. I left the corporate world in 2017 to join my first startup. I was fortunate to receive two offers from cyber startups, and I knew a cyber investment fund manager. I shared that I was looking for challenge and collaboration in culture, and he recommended the New Mexico firm, RiskSense. I joined RiskSense as I am passionate about startups in New Mexico, my home state. At RiskSense, I met the founder, Srinivas Mukkamala, who has been a mentor since. The culture at RiskSense allowed me to move from accounting/finance to help marketing and sales work on significant business challenges. I also met the co-founder of Cyber Security Works (CSW), Ram Movva, in 2018 as RiskSense worked with CSW as a close partner. I was honored to be offered the CFO role at CSW in 2021 when CSW opened its US headquarters. The mentors I have worked with through my cybersecurity journey have made all of the difference in my career. I am honored to work with passionate, open-minded, and intelligent people in a dynamic field on these significant cyber challenges. On CSW how is breaking the bias with regards to gender disparity in the cybersecurity industry:

“We are working to increase women’s awareness of cybersecurity as a great career field for women. We are hiring a diverse leadership team through mentoring and hiring women into leadership roles. We see more and more women join the company every day.” Julie Giannini, chief customer officer, Egnyte:

“This year on International Women’s Day, we celebrate women all over the world who pushed forward in an effort to #BreakTheBias so others could thrive. While the journey is far from over – with women in leadership remaining underrepresented and gender biases still prevalent across many industries – we can take the time to celebrate the women who got us here, as well as those who keep pushing. I’ve seen this not only in my own family through the hard work of my mother, who immigrated to the US and is still working as an interpreter at 85, but also in all of the women who have inspired me over the years. A longtime colleague and mentor of mine often saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself and was able to help me adjust my career path along the way. Her support and advice made it easier to navigate the unpredictability of life. The recent Winter Olympics was a palpable reminder of how everyone wins when they can get to their own starting line. Beginnings can look different for everyone, but running your own race and doing it intentionally, and with care, will inspire those around you to achieve more. As leaders, we must always be prepared to elevate others and push everyone to their full potential. This makes all of us stronger”

Gal Helemski, CTO/CPO at PlainID:

"International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate successful women in technology -- and all career fields -- while also seeking to make changes to ‘break the bias’ we still see when it comes to making career choices. While there has been an influx of women pursuing careers in technology, women only make up 11% of the global cybersecurity industry with less than 1% of them in C-suite leadership positions. Taking leadership roles in cybersecurity is important for everyone, but sometimes women don’t view it as an option. I’m proud to be in leadership for a company that now consists of more than 40% of women. I’m grateful that I’ve showcased that it is possible to succeed as a woman in technology, and I hope to encourage more women to pursue careers in cybersecurity." Holly Grey, CFO, Exabeam:

“This year, let’s make an effort to be more understanding of all that working moms do. As a working mother myself in an executive role, it can be a daily struggle to find a balance between work and my family. For myself and many others, the lines between work and personal life have blurred during the new work from home reality, and it can be harder than ever to give work and family the attention they each deserve.. The new types of demands brought on by COVID-19 drove working mothers to leave their jobs or be forced out in droves. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau determined that 10 million mothers living with school-age children were not actively working in January 2021 – 1.4 million more than during January 2020, pre-pandemic. I want to remind everyone on International Women’s Day that it’s important for organizations to be mindful of the women in their teams who may