Today is Women's Equality Day. The day historically reminds us of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. However, as we know, this did not equate to true equality. As we focus on women’s issues and gender equality today, we can look to places where women are underrepresented in leadership, work forces and opportunities to get an idea of what we must continue to change.
Only 26.7% of the tech workforce is female. While the industry has come far, there is still much more we can do to support women in cybersecurity.
Female leaders from across the industry provided their insights on how we can advance equality in cyber and advice of women looking to enter or advance in the industry.
Erin Dertouzos, vice president, people strategy, strongDM
“In honor of Women’s Equality Day, I want to encourage company leaders who are looking to improve gender diversity in their organizations to start at the beginning: the hiring process. Requiring certain degrees, or the job description itself eliminate who applies. I have encouraged recruiters on my teams to push hiring managers to think about whether or not degrees are even actually required for the roles that are being advertised. Many studies show that women are less likely to apply to roles if they don’t think they fulfill each and every required aspect of the position, which can be a barrier to bringing on more female talent to your team.
Companies also need to think about how women experience interviewing. When people see folks that look like them, they’re more likely to want to be a part of that team. If a woman is interviewing with all men, they won’t feel as comfortable in that space, and you could be missing out on great people because your current team isn’t designed with them in mind. More than once, I have refused to even consider interviewing for a company with an executive team comprised of all men.
We also need to think about the actual environments candidates are interviewing in. I once worked somewhere where women weren’t passing whiteboard engineering exercises at the same rate men were. One day I understood why, after I noticed a group of male interviewers standing in the doorway while candidates worked on coding problems. After we shifted where the interviewers were positioned, improvements on the test came almost immediately.
By examining every facet of the interview process, company leaders can create more space for diverse talent which will only serve to benefit the organization in the long run.”
Gianna Driver, CHRO, Exabeam
“In recent years, the tech industry has made substantial progress toward creating more inclusive, equitable and diverse environments. Representation of women has improved, but work remains to address persistent gaps within the talent pipeline: promotion rates are not equitable and women continue to lose representation at all levels of the career ladder.
Organizations need to remain vigilant and intentional to create healthy, diverse, thriving cultures; this entails actively investing in the growth and psychological safety of all employees. Embracing learning, normalizing mistake-making and listening go a long way toward cultivating environments conducive to empathy and the celebration of diversity.
The journey of inclusivity isn’t linear, isn’t defined by reaching an endpoint, and takes continual, iterative tending. When diversity, equity and inclusive practices are implemented effectively, organizations become vehicles for embracing vulnerability, empowerment, and the celebration of authenticity.
At Exabeam, we are consciously leaning into and listening to the voices of trans and cis women as well as our non-binary community. We value diverse perspectives and know this translates into business results, but more, it translates into a more fun, authentic and human work experience. Campaigns like Women’s Equality Day highlight the importance of amplifying our efforts in creating a safe and inclusive environment where everyone knows they belong.”
Renata Budko, head of product, Traceable
“Today we recognize the importance of a continued effort to encourage the best possible contribution from all the members of our society and eliminate inequality. It is up to us as leaders to build a nurturing workplace where there is no glass ceiling and to work with all the employees to avoid conscious and unconscious biases.
Despite the progress, there is still a lack of representation of women and minorities, particularly in the technology industry. More qualified women in the high-tech workforce benefits the business, the country, and the society at large. There are a variety of tangible steps that companies can take, such as encouraging women mentorships, insisting on more diversity in the university recruiting, and eliminating gender pay gap.
The aspiring female engineers can also drive the change at a personal level. It is vital we continue to learn from coworkers and the people we admire, regardless of age, gender, and upbringing. Female junior engineers and interns should actively participate in the innovation process and evangelize their career path to girls who are still in school to enact structural change.
On Women's Equality Day, I tell the young women on the technology career path, "Lean in. Lean on others and learn from them. Believe in yourself and make others believe in you. That's how we shape the new world."
Arti Raman, CEO and Founder, 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.