International Women in Cyber Day: 1st September 2023

Working to advance & retain women in cybersecurity, International Women in Cyber Day highlights the impact of diversity within a male-dominated industry

1st September 2023 marks International Women in Cyber Day (IWCD) and continues its work to elevate the achievements of women within cyber and cybersecurity spaces.

The day started being recognised due to one woman experiencing a lack of support and recognition for women in cybersecurity. Now, the movement continues to inspire women from around the globe to create and host events to celebrate women in cybersecurity that spans multiple continents around the globe.

With cybersecurity being a traditionally male-dominated sector, it is more important than ever to amplify the voices of women within the technology sector to ensure workplace equality.

Inspiring the next generation of women in cyber 

There is a very established lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace for women, who make up a very small percentage of the cybersecurity workforce. According to IWCD, women hold about 11% of the cybersecurity workforce jobs globally, which attests to the many roadblocks and inherent biases that women face within the industry.

As a result, women are also leaving the industry due to lack of opportunity, in addition to a lack of support and inclusion - something else that IWCD is working to combat.

Kirsty Perrett, Lead Cyber Engineer at Thales, previously worked for the NHS in the call centre. She never anticipated she’d end up in cybersecurity – nor did she think she even could. 

Currently, Perrett plays a pivotal role at Thales and splits her time between engaging customer demos in the cyber labs, representing Thales by visiting global clients, collaborating with schools to teach essential cyber skills to students and contributing to the development of the next generation of cyber security experts.

“When I was at school would I have wanted to study Cyber? No. I thought it was too clever for me. I assumed you would have to be good at maths – and that wasn’t me. But I’ve always been fascinated by computers, and I got to experience the impact of computing from the ground up during my career in the NHS,” she says.

"To any women or girls who are passionate about a career in this sector – let that passion shine through and pursue it"

“Cyber impacts every single aspect of our lives. We need to raise awareness of that, and encourage people from all walks of life into the profession. Throughout my career progression in the NHS I got to see the real-world impact that technology and cyber security can have on our world. WannaCry being a prime example of that. That was my first experience of seeing just how cyber can impact critical infrastructure.

She continues: “Cyber is everywhere. It impacts us all, and as such there’s a variety of career paths you could get into – and that requires a diversity of talent.

“The industry is very male dominated still, and while it’s improving, we still need to see a shift in attitudes. If you ever feel like you are a ‘tick’ box – just know that you are there because of your own skills and merit.

“It’s easy to see how women can develop imposter syndrome in these scenarios. We need to stop gender classifying certain job roles or sectors.

“It’s been great to work with young children and girls at the NDEC centre (National Digital Exploitation Centre) at Ebbw Vale. In the space of one session, I’ve seen a few little girls decide that when they grow up they want to be an engineer. It just shows that sometimes exposure is all girls need.

She concludes: “To any women or girls who are passionate about a career in this sector – let that passion shine through and pursue it. Invest in yourself and seek out any training opportunities that you can. There’s also a large community of women in cyber groups where you can join, network and ask questions.”

 

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For more insights into the world of Cyber - check out the latest edition of Cyber Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter.

Other magazines that may be of interest - Technology Magazine | AI Magazine.

Please also check out our upcoming event - Cloud and 5G LIVE on October 11 and 12 2023.

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