Women in cybersecurity: Leading from the frontlines.
By Riki Goldriech, Chief People Officer, Radware
Mar 29, 2024

An introduction to this article appeared in the monthly Creating Connections newsletter put together by the women of N2K. This is a guest-written article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, not necessarily the N2K.

Women in cybersecurity: Leading from the frontlines.

The 2024 theme for International Women’s Day’s—#InspireInclusion—resonates with many women in cybersecurity. Despite security’s history as a male dominated industry, recent statistics reveal a promising trend: Women are not only entering the cybersecurity arena, but also actively competing for leadership positions.

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that women will represent 30% of the global cybersecurity workforce by 2025 and expects this number to increase to 35% by 2031. While women remain greatly underserved in this field (currently 24%), there are several millions of vacant cybersecurity jobs. In fact, it was estimated that in 2023 3.5 million positions remained open, and that number is expected to hold well into 2025.

The adage, ‘where there is need, there is opportunity’ has never been more relevant than now. To inspire more women to pursue a career in cybersecurity, I have asked a few of my colleagues at Radware to reflect on their journeys and share their insights and experiences.

Some of these talented women are technical experts, others creative directors or strategic leaders—regardless of their specialty, there is a rewarding path and place for all of them in cybersecurity. 

Personal journeys into cybersecurity.

While none of these women arrived in security following a straight path, there are two common themes running through their stories—a curiosity and a desire to learn.  

“I was always drawn to technology,” said Eva Abergel, security solutions lead at Radware. “When I was a child, I used to take apart electronic appliances at home to see if I could put them back together. I was curious and wanted to understand how everything works. Then, the time came to choose a degree, and it was clear to me that I wanted to be an engineer.”

“I didn't plan my path into security, but when presented with the opportunity I felt like it was something that I could easily learn,” explained Rotem Elharar, product manager for cloud services at Radware. “I was surprised how much security interested and challenged me to move forward. Today, I work with leading edge technology and I’m always learning. As cyber attackers become more creative, we need to be equally as creative in advancing our solutions.”

According to Noreen Rosica, vice president of human resources at Radware, “I was initially drawn to the field of security due to a combination of personal interest and a growing awareness of the critical role cybersecurity plays in safeguarding organizations and individuals. One unique aspect of my journey was the transition from consumer electronics to cybersecurity which provided me with a broader perspective on technology and its vulnerabilities. Along the way, I was intrigued by the surprises I encountered, such as the rapid evolution of cyber threats and the constant need for professionals to stay ahead of the curve.”

The path to cybersecurity has many turns: Lessons learned.

The career journeys of this talented group of women are not without lessons learned along the way. In some cases, they learned more about themselves while other lessons taught them how to navigate the industry. 

“For me there were two big surprises along the way,” explained Abergel. “The first surprise was my first day at university when I realized that I was the only woman in engineering among nearly a hundred men. In that moment, I felt that I had to prove I was the best and I worked very hard for that. The second surprise came during my first job, when I discovered that despite hard work, women were significantly under paid in the corporate world. I refused to be okay with that. During a talk, a very high ranked female director at Intel once said, ‘What all men that I interview have in common is that they never accept a job offer without negotiating a better salary. What all women that I interview have in common is that they always do.’ That was the moment I decided to coach young female engineering students, stressing the importance of equality in all respects and that they may have to fight for it. My dream for women is that one day, it will no longer be a fight, but a right.”  

Shani Czyzyk, product manager for security solutions at Radware, added, “My advice to women considering a career in security is to believe in yourself and your abilities. Don't hesitate to voice your opinions, embrace challenges, and seek opportunities for leadership. The security industry offers immense satisfaction and interest, with each day presenting new and important learning experiences.” 

“The constant evolution in technology and the threat landscape always throw curveballs,” said Radware’s senior director of corporate marketing, Deborah Myers. “Staying adaptable and embracing the unexpected has become a skill in itself. Also, the sense of camaraderie within the security community was a delightful surprise. The willingness to share knowledge and collaborate makes this field incredibly vibrant.”

Women inspiring women.

As dedicated as this group of cyber experts is to their professions, they are equally as committed to supporting and encouraging other women to enter the field. There’s a popular quote that “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Each of the women reflects on the importance of this sentiment and having other women to look up to. 

“It is crucial for the industry to actively involve women in leadership roles,” advised Czyzyk. “By showcasing successful women in positions of influence, the industry can provide visible role models for aspiring female professionals. Workplaces that equally involve women in key roles alongside men not only foster a culture of gender equality, but also serve as powerful examples for other women, encouraging them to seek similar positions of influence within the field of security.”

Michelle Lees, director of field marketing at Radware, explained, “The best thing we can do is to engage—show up, use our voice, and simply be present. It’s really important that those already working in the industry are visible to others considering entering. Since security is still very much male-dominated, being visible and showing that a fulfilling career is possible is important.”

“As women in security, we can serve as visible role models and mentors,” further added Rosica. “Sharing our experiences, successes, and challenges helps demystify the field and showcases the diverse opportunities available. Additionally, I have found that participating in outreach programs and industry events allows us to engage with young women, encouraging them to explore cybersecurity as a rewarding career option.”

As Radware’s chief people officer, I believe to make a difference, we must share our experiences, be vocal, and actively network and refer colleagues. We must also invest in the next generation of young women by exposing them to opportunities in cybersecurity. We need to invite more young women into the workplace to meet other women and learn about their journeys. If we all extended that invitation to just one young woman, imagine the impact we could have.