Cybersecurity is among the most in-demand jobs of 2020. However, the industry has a gender disparity with a low representation of women. While there is a severe mismatch in the supply and demand for talent in the industry, the ratio of men to women is also a cause for concern. Reportedly, women made up for only 20% of the global cybersecurity workforce toward the end of 2019. Because of so many unfilled jobs and low participation of women in the industry, several women in cybersecurity have started initiatives and associations to give the needle a push. These women believe that it is important to get the word out there that women are wanted, valued, and respected in the fight against cybercrime.
It is believed that the low representation of women is due to the reason that women believe a career in cybersecurity is not a viable option. The challenges faced by women range from a lack of female role models, work life balance and pay gaps whilst the most common appears to be stereotyping. Whilst mindsets of individuals need to be corrected there needs to be more state and government level support for women to break away from these stereotype mentalities through secure career opportunities.
Cybersecurity needs women
It is high time women entered the cybersecurity industry to change this perception . Women are often associated with non-technical jobs. It is also true that women (in general) don’t see tech or security as a viable career path as these are often considered masculine careers. While these perceptions are ingrained young, they are reinforced when women who enter these professions turn out to be the only ones there!
Rose Elliott, senior director of product engineering of Tenable.io and an early starter in cybersecurity says, “The lack of gender diversity is definitely apparent, especially when you attend events, such as RSA or Black Hat, and men make up the vast majority of attendees.” This reiterates the “Rule of Steve,” concept initially introduced by Dawn-Marie Hutchinson, chief information security officer for pharmaceuticals and R&D at GSK.
While Elliott feels that it is a little hard to push for opportunities, she also said, “At the end of the day, the only way to change the industry is for more women to get in and break down those barriers.”
Women have an eye for detail and have the ability to multi-task which are two important traits of a successful cyber security professional. Women should hence learn to collaborate with one another since they have similar goals.
Love what you do
To be the best at any job, the most important thing is to love doing it. While the number may be less, women in the industry feel that their job is worth the challenges that they face. Maggie McDaniel, Director of Finished Intelligence at Recorded Future, while talking about how much she enjoys seeing the impact of her work said, “The fast-paced environment keeps me on my toes and keeps my career interesting.”
Another woman leader in cybersecurity, Jessica Ortega of SiteLock adds, “Many tech companies now offer self-paced training, self-study certifications, and the opportunity to work remotely, making cybersecurity one of the best career paths for anyone who prioritizes work-life balance.”
Benefits of a career in Cybersecurity
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be up to 3.5 million job openings by 2021. There are so many job vacancies in the cybersecurity industry waiting to be filled. Women aspirants should work towards building a career in this field as there are several benefits linked to it.
- Due to the skill gap in the cyber world, enterprises are willing to pay handsome salaries to experts who join their workforce.
- Reportedly, women have 52.5% more soft skills than men – a top requirement of employers.
- According to the same report, women have 150% more analytical skills and 45% more skills when it comes to leadership – the qualities that make them eligible for top-level cybersecurity jobs with several perks and benefits.
Get inspired by the Top women leaders in cybersecurity
If you wish to join the global cybersecurity workforce but need some motivation to do so, here are some inspiring women information security experts who are leading Fortune 100 companies (in no particular order):
|Dr. Alissa Abdullah, Chief Information Security Officer, Xerox|
Dr. Alissa Abdullah, before working as the Chief Information Security Officer of Xerox, was working at Stryker as the Chief Information Security Officer. She has also served as the Deputy Chief Information Officer for the White House Executive Office of the President during the Obama administration.
|Dawn-Marie Hutchinson, Chief Information Security Officer, GSK|
Dawn-Marie Hutchinson is the Chief Information Security Officer for Pharmaceuticals and R&D at GSK. She is a highly accomplished senior executive with more than 18 years of experience across different service sectors. She was maned as one of the “Top 12 Most Influential Women in Cyber Security” by CSO Magazine and “Eight Women to Watch” by SC Magazine.
|Flora Garcia, Global Chief Privacy Officer & Security Attorney, McAfee|
Flora Garcia is an evening school graduate at the Fordham Law School and Duke University, from where she majored in computer science and economics. She is currently working as McAfee’s Privacy and Security Attorney. In the past she worked in compliance at MUFG Union Bank and magazine publisher Time Inc. Flora is an IAPP Fellow of Information Privacy and holds the CIPP/US, CIPP/IT, and CISSP certifications.
|Guncha Malik, Sr. Manager – Security Engineering and Incident Response at IBM|
Guncha Malik is the Senior Manager – Security Engineering and Incident Response at IBM. Having played different roles in a software development lifecycle from development to testing, to Level 3 support, to QA Management, to Quality Lead, she has a good exposure on the teams’ priorities and understands that security does not come as a top priority for most of the teams.
|Parisa Tabirz, Senior Director of Engineering — Chrome (Security & Privacy), Google|
Parisa Yabirz started her career with Google and has been working there for the last 12 years. She is currently working there as the Senior Engineering Director and is responsible for the security and privacy of the Chrome browser.
|Sherry Naleszkiewicz, Sr. Manager, Cybersecurity Audit at McKesson|
Sherry Naleszkiewicz is the Senior Manager of Cybersecurity Audit in McKesson’s Internal Audit department. Her job responsibility includes planning and managing the global cybersecurity audit program using a risk-based approach. Prior to McKesson, Sherry worked for CBS Corp and developed the Enterprise Security Services and Database Services teams as Director.
|Anne Marie Zettlemoyer, Vice President of Security Engineering, Mastercard|
Anne Marie Zettlemoyer, before Mastercard, was the Director of Information Security Architecture and Engineering at Freddie Mac and Director of Information Security Analytics at Capital One. As a cyber strategist, she has an experience of over 20 years across 8 industries. She has served as a trusted advisor for Fortune 500 companies, law enforcement, government agencies, think tanks and security vendors.
Tina Grave is the Cyber Security Executive and Board Member of AppGate. She has more than 26 years of experience in IT outsourcing, security, cloud and SaaS. She is soughtafter for her ability to take complex cybersecurity topics and make them accessible to those that are not cybersecurity experts.
|Arlin Pedrick, Chief Security Officer, Accenture|
Arlin Pedrick, prior to Accenture, worked at Disney as the Director of Global Intelligence & Threat Analysis. Before that, she was working with Walmart as the Director of Global Security. She has also held multiple positions in the U.S. Government for 32 years.
Charlene K. Coon is a cybersecurity leader with over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity, information technology, and Sr. executive management. She is working at L3harris Technologies as the Lead Information Security Systems Engineer. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral of Computer Science – Cybersecurity and Information Assurance.
A Scholarship Opportunity for Women at EC-Council University
Thanks to the benefit of online education, now even stay at home mothers who wish to pursue a cybersecurity career can study from the comfort of their home and prepare for a successful career.
Online education is the best and most convenient option if you are looking to pursue a degree in cybersecurity while on a job as well. Educational institutions like EC-Council University offer multiple programs in cybersecurity for aspirants to choose from.
Women candidates who wish to apply in March, can enroll for a Degree program with EC-Council University and enjoy a scholarship for $2000! Learn more about this opportunity here.