Industry Observations

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: My Experience as a Woman Working in Cybersecurity

As we continue to celebrate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021, it’s important to highlight the ever-increasing role that women are playing in helping lead the industry into the future.

I’ve had the privilege of sharing my experience as a woman working in the cybersecurity industry with some talented reporters through engaging interviews. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Authority Magazine

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in cybersecurity?

I got into cybersecurity through creating an enablement program for a Cybersecurity company and it was there that I fell in love with the criticality of cybersecurity and the everchanging landscape of cybersecurity, along with the outside influences on breaches and security.

Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? If not, what specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

Biggest piece of advice when I talk to women who want to get into cybersecurity is not to be afraid of the word cybersecurity or the way the technology is presented. When you look at a cybersecurity company, there still are the primary business functions, from sales to marketing, that you can enter into. And, if you’re technical there’s engineering, there’s product development. People, especially women, get scared away when they hear cybersecurity. Many people think it is all technical, and it doesn’t have to be. My advice would be to follow where they’re passionate and enter through that avenue.

Looking at the industry as a whole, women make up 40% of the workforce, yet are only 25% in tech roles. And the higher you go up, the worse you get. I think we need to do better as women to make sure that we’re nurturing and cultivating other women to follow behind us and also to make sure that we’re helping them to get ahead. I would encourage women to be confident in engaging in a conversation and having your points heard, even when people may disagree. It’s okay to disagree. As you go up into the executive ranks, you want to have healthy conversations, and I think a lot of times, women are afraid to have those because their feelings might be hurt. We have to find that compromise. I’m proud to say that at WhiteHat Security, more than 60 percent of the executive leadership team are women. We need to fight for equality for girls, young women and women in all aspects so that going forward it is easier for them to capitalize on careers in tech.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in the cybersecurity industry? Can you explain what you mean?

One of the biggest myths I want to dispel is that women need to remain competitive towards each other in order to climb to the top. One thing I’ve noticed throughout my career is that when men get promoted, they will usually bring their colleagues up with them. On the other hand, with women, I’ve noticed that there’s a competition and reluctance to bring other women up as they climb the ladder as well. I think the myth that there’s a shortage of roles and promotions available for women is a lie. The lack of women in leadership positions and technology positions is not because the roles aren’t there. There’s an abundance of opportunity, and we as women need to do a better job at making sure we’re bringing other women along with us as we succeed.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in Tech” and why?

  1. Be your authentic self
  2. Honest and open communications
  3. Empower and mentor other women
  4. Focus on outcomes with true metrics
  5. Promote your teams’ impact and results on an ongoing basis

Enterprise Security Tech

How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years?

Cybersecurity is a growing industry and women are realizing that it is a great field to get into. In previous years, women have shied away from cybersecurity because of its technical nature. Recently, I have seen an increase in the number of women entering the cybersecurity workforce. At WhiteHat, more than 60% of the executive leadership team are women. I got involved in cybersecurity by following my passion of helping high growth organizations to accelerate their sales by implementing sales best practices and a robust revenue enablement process. It was important to me to find a company whose culture and sales philosophy matched mine, and that includes empowering women to be workforce leaders.

What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?

Definitely check out jobs in cybersecurity. Don’t shy away from cybersecurity because of the misconceptions of it being too technical. Yes, there are technical positions, but it is a business. There are plenty of other positions in finance, marketing, sales, enablement, operations, customer success and human resources to look at. It’s an everchanging industry with a plentitude of opportunities. Don’t miss out on a growing industry because it doesn’t seem like a traditional path for you.

At a young age, there are different expectations of girls and boys as it pertains to STEM. Continuing to fight for equality for girls, young women and women in all aspects will make it easier for them to capitalize on careers in tech.

 

Tags: Cybersecurity careers, women in cybersecurity