In the spirit of keeping the spotlight on women in cyber security, I thought this week would be a great time to highlight some developments in the field. Diversity in cyber security is vital. Elevating these stories is an essential part of improving the gender gap. Hopefully as we share these stories we can encourage women worldwide to see previously obscured opportunities.
First All-Female Cyber Security Conference Underway
When Kirsten Ward and Saher Naumaan, BAE Systems threat intelligence analysts, were told “women in cyber security are hard to find,” they didn’t buy it. In response, they founded a brand new cyber security conference with an all-female speaker line-up. Named “RESET,” the conference hopes to dispel the myth that there aren’t female experts in the field. RESET will go beyond discussions of “what it’s like to be a woman in cyber security” and instead create an environment where speakers can highlight their research and experience. Topics include disinformation campaigns, digital weapons like Stuxnet, and a host of new challenges as technologies advance.
RESET’s inaugural session begins June 14th. Bravo to Ward and Naumaan for taking action and creating a new forum for women in cybersecurity!
OURSA Rebuffs RSA Conference Gender Bias
Back in April of this year, a women focused security conference emerged in response to a male-dominated program. When it was determined the RSA Conference in San Francisco had one female keynote speaker out of 22, women in the industry mobilized to launch OURSA, aka “Our Security Advocates Conference.”
Organized in five days, OURSA featured security experts from Facebook, Google, Spotify and Snap. While the conference only had space for a few hundred attendees compared to RSA’s 43,000, it did offer a live feed to increase its reach.
If you missed the conference, you can learn more about OURSA and view a recording of the live feed on their website.
Incremental Improvements & Good News
There are signs that women are making strides in the field. Looking to book a diverse panel for your next conference? Check out the Women+ Sourcelist database of women and underrepresented genders in tech policy. Cisco’s “Women of Impact” conference in March “[brought] together Cisco employees across the globe to “attract, develop, retain, and celebrate women.” Cisco’s blog also has a dedicated collection of articles focused on women in cybersecurity. And while it has been widely reported since 2013 that women represent 11% of the global security workforce, a recent article suggests that number is currently at 20% and rising. Indeed, there are more resources than ever for women interested in cyber security, including WISP (Women In Security and Privacy). WISP is a great place to check out upcoming events.
Improving the status of women in cyber security means understanding and reforming the pipeline to infosec careers while boosting resources to support diversity. Speaking events are a great way to increase visibility of this issue. If you’re interesting in sharing your voice, you might want to consider speaking on behalf of privacy and security diversity.
We still have a long way to go, but the signs are encouraging for more women leaders and speakers in the cybersecurity field.