Women in cybersecurity: Cisco, IBM, Symantec help pave the way

Women in cybersecurity: Cisco, IBM, Symantec help pave the way

Women make up roughly half the world’s population, they hold around 50 percent of jobs in the U.S. workforce and fill 25 percent of IT jobs, yet they account for only 10 percent of the positions in cybersecurity.

Females in the field are uniting to help move the needle on those numbers towards 50 percent of women in cyber jobs, where it belongs. They are doing so (in part) by joining one of several women in cyber associations. A list of the associations can be found at WomenInCyber.com, compiled as a free community resource by Cybersecurity Ventures. (Disclaimer: Steve Morgan is founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures).

There are 1 million cybersecurity job openings in 2017, and that figure is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2019. Will women fill a larger percentage of cyber positions over the next two to five years and beyond? The glass is half-empty or half-full, depending on how one looks at the issue.

Considering most media reporting on the topic runs the aforementioned statistics, and asks questions such as “Why aren’t women working in security?“, the popular view seems to be half-empty.

It’s possible women may hold more than 10% of the jobs but there’s no solid way to capture the data since a lot of them crossed over from IT or other roles. Women in management are giving other women a fair shake in their recruiting and hiring practices — and a growing number of HR chiefs are following. The old-boys network is fading away as cyber goes new school and is a ‘cool’ field appealing to more young women.

In 2015, Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and CEO at IBM, summed up the cyber threat better than anyone when she said, “We believe that data is the phenomenon of our time. It is the world’s new natural resource. It is the new basis of competitive advantage, and it is transforming every profession and industry. If all of this is true – even inevitable – then cyber crime, by definition, is the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world.”

Rometty has made cybersecurity central to IBM’s turnaround efforts over the past three years — as the tech giant has transitioned into next generation technologies. The IBM Security business generated roughly $2 billion for the company last year, and continues to grow strong. IBM’s previous CISO JoAnne Martin is a woman and still active in cyber, post-retirement. And no surprise Big Blue’s current CISO Shamla Naidoo is an accomplished woman.

If Rometty is the Queen Bee of Cybersecurity, then Michelle Finneran Dennedy, Cisco’s Chief Privacy Officer, is the First Lady of Digital Privacy.

Cisco too has a $2 billion security business that is trending up and rivaling IBM’s. When they welcomed Dennedy in 2015, John Stewart, SVP, Chief Security and Trust Officer quoted from ‘The Privacy Engineers Manifesto‘, writing “It’s our thesis that privacy will be an integral part of the next wave in the technology revolution and that innovators who are emphasizing privacy as an integral part of the product life cycle are on the right track.” Dennedy co-authored the book, the first of its kind.

Symantec, the world’s largest security software company, made a high profile hire last summer when it appointed Tara Wheeler as principal security advocate and senior director of engineering for its Website Security team. A story in The Register calls Wheeler an uber-nerd and Symantec’s first cybersecurity czar. Part of her role is talking to the independent hacker community and turning up research that isn’t showing up on the corporate radar.

Wheeler’s book “Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories” is geared toward young women in technology. Her position at Symantec also sends out a message that says cybersecurity is a cool field for high school and college aged girls to think about.

Both Cisco and IBM are sponsoring the upcoming WiCys Women in Cybersecurity Conference in Tuscon, Ariz., on March 31-April 1. Dennedy will be speaking at the event. Facebook, Raytheon, and Palo Alto Networks are the other major cyber vendors supporting the event.

The WiCys gathering in the desert was jam packed with women in cyber last year, and is expected to attract even more women this year. There’s power in unity and the more women who attend WiCys, the more likely they’ll be a magnet for other women to pay attention to the field. WiCys is also a great place to help the media and bloggers decide on what the future has in store for women in cyber. If they go, then expect to be reading sunnier forecasts on the topic later this year.


Article source: CSO