International Women’s Day originated as a way to end discrimination against women around the world. Nowadays, it is recognized as a time to push for increased gender equity and reflect on the accomplishments that women have made in different social and professional aspects. Although women’s rights are important year-round, International Women’s Day is the perfect time to highlight the talented women who contribute to our team and shape the future of the cybersecurity and the technology industry at large.
This year, the Women of WhiteHat shared their thoughts on this year’s theme (#EachForEqual), the tech industry’s treatment of women and the importance of women supporting each other.
Sue-Lynn Law, account development representative:
“A mentor can be very important to a person’s success, particularly at the beginning of a career or at the start of a new role within a company. Having a mentor can alleviate some of the fear or stress of learning a new workplace. Relying on a mentor’s experience and knowledge, a mentee can establish a successful start – but they aren’t the only ones benefiting from the relationship. A mentor has just as much to gain from the mentorship, as interacting with a new employee who is eager to learn and contribute to the team is often contagious. This dynamic can often result in an exchange of new and creative ideas. By providing a new hire with the resources and guidance of a mentor, you are also fostering a more collaborative workforce and that is valuable to the entire organization.”
Alexandra Marcano, account development representative:
“Women interested in a career in tech should dream big and never be complacent or set limits for themselves in the workplace. I encourage women to tell their stories and be confident in the value they add to any team! When choosing a mentor, it’s important to look both in and out of the work setting, for who inspires you and wants to contribute to your path to success. By increasing women’s participation in mentorship, we foster a welcoming environment, and empower women with a genuine and honest exchange of ideas for career growth.
When looking for a mentor, do not be shy! Do your best to reach out over LinkedIn, Slack or even your company’s email, to ask for the support you want or need. Be direct about what you hope to learn and what you want to achieve in your future. Then, you can align yourself with mentors who have similar qualities or goals. Be mindful to listen to their career story and try to learn from them through what they wish they knew at the beginning of their career.”
Krista Delucchi, senior manager, Engineering Program Management:
“I believe many women still suffer more openly from feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt – known as imposter syndrome – and that’s why it’s important to have mentors who can model ways to cope or overcome that. I know for me, seeing fearless women in the workplace who refuse to be treated differently has made it okay for me to advocate for fair treatment in my own career.
It’s also important to understand what it is you are seeking in a mentor relationship. Maybe you need encouragement to advance your career, or someone to inspire you to find and keep your voice, or to advocate for getting you to the next rank. Or maybe you’re looking for someone who models the kind of balance you seek in life – say a working mom or a woman who has decided not to have children or a woman who is passionate about volunteerism in her personal life. Whatever it is you’re looking for, identify that person and articulate your needs. This gets the conversation started and makes it much easier for your mentor to help you.”
Samantha Jones, manager, Site Onboarding Americas:
“This year on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the progress we’ve made as women in the technology field and look for ways to improve it for the next generation. This year’s theme, #EachforEqual, reminds us to strive for workplaces where women can simply focus on making a difference at work, rather than fighting over equal pay. To tighten the gender gap in our industry, we must set young women up for success with greater encouragement to reach for new roles and speak up when something isn’t right.
Mentorship is extremely important to empower young women, and can be both career and life changing for all involved. For those who haven’t found a mentor yet, my advice is to look for multiple mentors, including one that has achieved some of your goals recently, one who achieved them a few years ago, and one who understands your field. Lastly young women in our field should remember that technical prowess is powerful, but it’s the soft skills that ultimately help one advance into leadership roles.”
Kenia Martinez, application security engineer:
“On International Women’s Day, it’s important to remember to be aware of yourself, and recognize your contributions and those of others. See their strengths and your strengths and work together for a common purpose. We’re all working towards a goal and everyone brings special services and traits. Bringing all the needed puzzle pieces together makes the goal more attainable.
It’s also vital to ensure that we’re listening to each other. If you can provide the correct answers with all the information needed, be assertive. Ask: ‘Are you listening to me?’ My previous female manager would ask this question, and I realized this simple question is powerful. We need to make sure people are listening and ready to understand shared knowledge.”
Stephanie Camacho, application security specialist:
“As women, we internalize stereotypes about ourselves and imagine that our capabilities are far less than they are. Although there may be difficulties for women to thrive in the tech space, these roadblocks are given significantly more power when we do not work hard to move past them. This is the lesson I learned from my husband as I made the leap from the woman-dominated world of academia to technology.
His advice was that I could not view the field as a place meant solely for men. I have to see the unique opportunities that exist for me being one of the few women. I am able to pave my own way and learn from the process. This also puts me in a position to clear a path for other women that are interested in tech to come in and build from the work that I and other women have done to continue developing the field.”
Alone, each woman can make strides toward gender parity, but together, communities can create an equal world. This year’s theme reminds us that we are able to achieve more when we work together and include people of different genders, races, and backgrounds for a more inclusive industry. At WhiteHat, it’s our goal to strive for that balance in all of our decision making, and we hope to help push the conversation forward, not just today, but in the future as well.