Cybersecurity on women's history month.
N2K logoMar 31, 2022

An introduction to this article appeared in the monthly Creating Connections newsletter put together by the women of The CyberWire. This is a guest-written article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, not necessarily the CyberWire, Inc.

Cybersecurity on women's history month.

As a media organization, the CyberWire is the recipient of ideas for stories and interview pitches each day, all year long. In March, things are a bit different. We still receive those story ideas, but since March is Women's History Month and when International Women's Day is celebrated, many of those pitches share thoughts and quotes from women who are leaders in our industry. We thought we would collect those words and share them with you all together in this article.

The theme of 2022's International Women's Day is #BreakTheBias – “Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”

The representation of women in tech. 

“As a female founder and CEO of a cybersecurity company, International Women’s Day is incredibly important to me. I’m a firm believer that diverse talent is crucial to the industry, especially as we witness an upheaval in innovation and digital transformation. Despite this, the number of tech roles held by women increased by a mere 2% in 2021

 In order to increase this figure, as a society, we need to empower women from a young age and encourage them to be ambitious. Seeing women in high-powered roles is excellent, and proactivity is key to ensuring they stay there. Businesses, too, have a crucial role to play. Hiring and recruitment practices are incredibly important and with visible female role models and leaders in the industry, we encourage women to envision a future in tech. I am proud to be leading the way and pioneering innovation in the cybersecurity industry, using AI technology to enhance cyber protection around the world. I hope today is a day of championing such innovation and the potential for women to be at the forefront of these ideas. 

Put simply, diverse talent brings new perspectives and innovation. Talented, driven women – as well as employees of different ages, nationalities and domains – create an impactful environment by challenging norms, building competencies and championing excellence. As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2022 and the progress we have made, we need to remember there is still work to be done in the world of cybersecurity and tech. We must be more dedicated than ever to inspiring, encouraging and influencing women.” - Camellia Chan, CEO & founder of X-PHY, a Flexxon brand.

“When I first started in technology, I didn’t see a lot of women in the industry. While it didn’t bother me much at the time, it’s exciting and rewarding to have female peers now. I’m glad to see more women coming into the technology world. 

Women are becoming better represented in the technology space, and we’re pushing the industry forward. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to bring more women into tech. It’s important that organizations focus on both recruiting new women to the field and lifting up the women that already work for them. Programs that intentionally promote, recruit, and support women help foster a sense of inclusion and belonging throughout the company.” – Maria Thompson Saeb, Senior Program Manager Governance, Risk, and Compliance at Illumio.

"We need more diversity in this industry. Simply put, if everyone in the industry looks the same, grew up the same, received their education from the same universities we will never achieve the ultimate diversity goal — diversity of thought and problem-solving ability. We need to start talking to and encouraging our young ladies while they are children. Middle school is the age most educators say they begin to lose girls from STEM programs. More encouragement, more representation in their lives, redefining what a career in a STEM field means and all the different interpretations of what this will mean in the future will be incredibly important. We are not very inclusive when we talk about STEM careers. It usually involves engineering jobs, but the truth is STEM careers take many forms. I’ll illustrate using the example of cars. As cars become more automated, and at some point autonomous, we are having discussions about the importance of psychology professionals in the field to help write ethical code. Other sciences and arts will evolve the cyber industry and we need more of everyone, but especially women to be in this field." – Jennifer Tisdale, CEO of GRIMM.

"As a female Talent Acquisition Manager in cybersecurity, I feel I have a fiduciary responsibility to advocate for female candidates and set them up for success. In my role at GRIMM, I prioritize recruiting top talent and positioning them where they can grow, thrive, and belong. As the company's front line to the workforce, I see shocking instances every day where women sell themselves short, from their salary requirements to their skillsets. I'm here to help #breakthebias by showing women their worth, applauding their success, and encouraging them to shatter right through those glass ceilings. This is the lens through which we operate, and it's one of many reasons I'm proud to work at GRIMM." Dana Bridges, Talent Acquisition Manager of GRIMM.

“While we cannot ignore the tremendous progress that has been made, we live in a world where perceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man are still very much defined by stereotypes. I have been fortunate to have forward thinking parents, educators and employers that have encouraged me to reach for and achieve my goals of working in STEM. However, others around the world remain not as fortunate. This year, as we consider how we would like to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to lean into the conversation around gender stereotypes. And then, I hope people take action – there are so many ways to do so – from acting as a mentor, to speaking at a career fair at schools, to simply donating to an organization dedicated to the cause. In other words, let's help close the opportunity gap, with a goal of ensuring girls and women have all the support and resources necessary to reach their full potential." Lindsay Mantzel, Senior Full Stack Developer, Retrospect, a StorCentric Company.

On the 2022 International Women's Day theme: #BreakTheBias.

"I love this year's "Break the Bias" theme for Women's History Month, which promotes gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow. It also highlights the deliberate or unconscious bias that has prevented women from excelling professionally. All young girls and women should feel empowered to become digital pioneers and pursue careers in tech and cybersecurity. While amplifying diverse voices sounds excellent in principle, and the business benefits are astounding, a cultural shift towards a fair and equitable workplace is easier said than done. Why? Because it's a change in mindset that requires embracing vulnerabilities, acknowledging stereotypes, and committing to take immediate action on corporate initiatives. Cybersecurity companies like GRIMM are being intentional about making a positive difference through inclusive hiring practices and promoting equity in all facets of the company culture. GRIMM also has some of the most progressive allies who champion DEI. I encourage technology leaders to prioritize seeking innovative ideas and minds to disrupt the technology landscape positively. Together, if we leverage power for good, we can #BreakTheBias."Naki Carter, Marketing Manager of GRIMM.

“I have been in the technology field for over 20 years and have run the gambit of positions from on-the-ground engineering roles to organizational leadership positions. As such, I have been privy to and experienced first-hand the oftentimes unconscious biases against women in this field. For example, I’ve been the technical spokesperson lead for my organization countless times. Yet, it is not an uncommon occurrence that during the Q&A session following my presentation, the audience has directed their questions to my male counterpart. Even when that male has looked to me for guidance, and I would take the lead in providing the technical response, the next questions would, again, be directed back to my male colleague. To survive and thrive as a female in previously stereotypical male roles, women must be prepared to actively break biases. We must teach girls and women to assert themselves, which historically has not typically been a trait to which we are attributed (not positively, anyway). At the same time, we need to teach everyone to stop making assumptions based on the gender of the person they see in front of them. Technical people come in all shapes and sizes but there has been a tendency to assume that males are the more technical ones. We have indeed come a long way. Yet, biases do persist. As women, the more we speak up, actively pursue and contribute to typically male-dominated fields, the more we can help to shatter these preconceived notions.”  – Rachel Pedreschi, Vice President of Community and Developer Relations at Imply.

“I fully support and agree with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #BreaktheBias. While it’s human nature to have biases, it’s something I strive to be cognizant of and sensitive to—especially as a minority woman. You will find biases wherever you go, so it’s important to learn how to spot them and overcome them. One way women can accomplish this is by speaking up. For so long, women have relied on the quality of their work to speak for them, but that’s an outdated way of thinking. In today’s world, women need to be forthright, direct and confident talking about their accomplishments and acting as a self advocate. In addition, women should seek champions who believe in them and will speak highly of them to others. Also importantly, women should keep an eye out for each other. If you see a woman trying to speak up in a meeting but being ignored, say something about it and make sure that woman is provided the opportunity to share her thoughts. 

In the technology industry, I do see improvements being made, and there are certainly actions women can take to create our own change. Be a mentor to the younger women in your organization, and seek out mentors who can be your champions. Get involved or support organizations that are focused on empowering and educating women such as Girls Who Code or Women in Tech. By working together, women can create the future we want to see now.”Catherine Qu, Vice President of Growth Marketing at Imply.

“International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating all women across all diversities around the world. It is a day among many on which I reflect on and appreciate just how far women have come in the technology field. At the same time, I recognize that there remains work to be done to ensure future generations have the support and resources necessary to explore, pursue and grow in these fields. I strive to emulate those that provided opportunities for me to pursue, and now thrive in my career. And I am fortunate to now work in an organization that appreciates the immense value of a diverse workforce.

So this year on International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to give purposeful thought to how they can actively support a girl’s or woman’s goal of entering a career in technology or their chosen field – whether it is donating your time or from your wallet. And business leaders, I likewise implore you to review your organization’s HR practices – from hiring to programs designed to train and retain the most richly diverse workforce possible. After all, diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing. Bringing diverse people and thereby diverse perspectives into the workplace leads to a greatly enhanced ability to generate ideas and problem solve, which lead to solutions, innovation and business transformation.”Samina Subedar, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, StorCentric.

Advice for those looking to the future.

“For women who are looking to start a career in tech, my biggest piece of advice is to figure out what you enjoy the most. In technology there are so many opportunities and roles to choose from – focus on satisfying your curiosity and do what makes you happy. Once you figure out what’s most interesting and fun for you, you can start looking at the qualifications required for that role and develop the skills you need. You can also start networking and get involved with groups like Shecurity or ISACA’s women in tech network. Never underestimate the power of a strong, supportive network." – Maria Thompson Saeb, Senior Program Manager Governance, Risk, and Compliance at Illumio.