The Times they are A-changing: Women in Cyber

Today marks International Women in Cyber Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the contributions made by women in the cybersecurity industry, raising awareness of disparities, and understanding how businesses can foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture. Since just 26.7% of the tech workforce is female, women from all over the world have been motivated by the movement to talk about the difficulties, successes, and barriers they face in this field.

Cyber Protection Magazine collected commentaries from women around the cybersecurity industry.

Sam Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA, Exabeam 

“It’s no secret that there are still notable barriers for women looking to enter or stay in the cybersecurity industry. Cybersecurity is still struggling with a lack of role models for aspiring professionals. Even when women do break into this male-dominated industry, they often find that the sector is still fundamentally designed for men.   

“On International Women in Cyber Day, I would like to remind company leaders that it’s not enough to simply get women in the door, there needs to be resources and support in place that keep them there. For example, employee support groups, mentorship programs, initiatives such as menstrual and menopause policies, comprehensive medical insurance – the list goes on! Each business is different, and some of these may not be applicable to all, but the bottom line is that organisations need to adapt their policies to their people. We can’t simply keep copying and pasting the same HR policies that have been in place for decades; it’s time to adapt.”  

Sofiia Dron, Delivery Director, Intelllias

“I think it’s important that women aren’t afraid to push for change in their careers. Personally, I have changed my career four times, and three times within the IT sector. Although it was scary switching to something new, the progression was equally interesting and rewarding, and by pushing myself I gained diverse experience and confidence which helped me more easily dare to push for change and recognition. 

“The most favourable impetus is a person’s inner sincere desire for change. When you have grown from your current position or want to radically change something in your life, you must dare to ensure this change for yourself. Especially within IT – one of the most dynamic and flexible industries in the world –  which is the perfect domain where you can do this. You are in power of your own success: surround yourself with people that value you, dare to change your environment, and be motivated to discover new things and change yourself.

“However, it’s also crucial to ensure that, in the pursuit of success, you don’t end up burned out. If you are extremely passionate about something, but unable to manage your own expectations and your own progression, then burnout can be a risk. It is important to listen to yourself, understand the initial signs of stagnation (or in some cases, employer disregard), and be brave enough to stand up for your own promotions and your own achievements.”

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Gal Helemski, CTO and Co-founder of PlainID

“Organisations must make a concerted effort to eliminate discrepancies and create a friendly atmosphere for people from diverse backgrounds. Only 28% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) jobs are held by women, and men outnumber women in most STEM undergraduate degrees. In several upcoming professions with the greatest pay and fastest job growth, there continues to be disproportionately large gender inequalities. Even though significant progress has been made, particularly in the technology industry, women continue to experience lower pay, fewer promotions, and less access to leadership positions.

“It is well known that varied viewpoints fosters better innovation, which is at the heart of the STEM industries. When team members exhibit the same behaviours and appearance, end users may not discover distinctive or superior solutions if team members share similar backgrounds and experiences. The encouragement of women to study STEM at a young age provides a variety of perspectives that can foster creative solutions and attract a wide range of clients.

“Everyone at the company, regardless of gender identity, should work to create a space where individuals can express their worries and be heard. Senior management and executives should pay more attention to employees’ career paths to understand who they are and their goals for advancement within the company. Ultimately, I want all girls and young women to understand their infinite value and potential. No matter who or what is proving to be a barrier, I advise always asking for more. ‘Why can’t it be me, too?’, you might ask.”

Caroline Mantle Strategic Alliance Manager, Six Degrees

“Diversifying the workforce has been a topic of much-needed discussion for a few years now – especially in tech. Organisations have listened and many are making concerted efforts to increase the gender balance through various schemes and outreaches like “Returnship” programmes to specifically help restart the careers of women returning to STEM roles.

“However, the rhetoric still needs to change when it comes to how the industry helps support and retain women in tech. Ultimately, if all you see are barriers, then that’s all you’ll talk about. I would love to see more women in senior roles, as the number of women in higher positions has remained largely the same over the past two decades. While I have been lucky to encounter some strong female mentors in my career, reflecting back, I may have taken a different path if I’d had the right encouragement, role models and opportunities at the beginning of my career.

“Organisations should reflect on how they are facilitating success for the women already in their workforces in addition to supporting those looking to start, or restart, their careers in the sector. In doing so, they will be able to foster a far more equitable and inclusive workplace environment, whilst also reaping the essential benefits that come with female achievement and talent.”

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