As a woman working in cybersecurity, I have never been happier in my career and in my workplace, and I want to tell you why. My career journey has not been easy. I spent 10 years in the U.S. Army, and have now been working in cybersecurity for four years. I am accustomed to being one of the only women in the room, and I have learned how to deal with the many challenges that come with that type of environment.
This year, I lucked out and found a company that is very nearly 50 percent women! IntSights was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, where military service is compulsory and women represent a very large percentage of the tech community. The cultural differences are palpable. Women at IntSights are respected for their intelligence, experience, and potential. Personally, I feel that I have been treated as an equal and I have never been the victim of harassment, bias, bullying, or “mansplaining” since I came here. I feel comfortable sharing my ideas, and they are heard with open ears. Women in our company are promoted to positions of leadership, are trusted with important responsibilities, and are given the recognition they deserve.
This is a culture that I have never experienced in my career before, and I want to share it with others. This culture is inclusive and humane. This culture makes me hopeful for the future!
Diversity is the difference
A diverse work environment changes the morale, culture, and success of a company. In 2020, there will be a projected 1.8 million empty security positions worldwide. If you work in Information Security right now, you are probably experiencing the stress that this shortage causes. Burnout and employee churn rates are through the roof. It seems that most organizations are struggling to find qualified individuals to fill vital security roles. Data is increasing, and so are cyber threats. Without people to fill those roles, your organization’s security posture suffers, employees become burned out and leaders are struggling to counter financial losses from breaches.
So, why are there still only 20 percent women in cybersecurity positions? It is not for lack of desire by women to enter this field. We, as an industry, must change the narrative around the female experience in IT.
Women in cyber: A new hope
There has never been a better time to be a woman in cybersecurity. More women are working in information security roles than ever before, and that is partly due to the increase in awareness of gender bias and inequality in the industry. According to a Frost & Sullivan survey, women represented approximately 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce in 2013. Now, women account for nearly 20 percent of the cybersecurity industry, including enterprises, vendors, service providers, small and medium-sized businesses, and startups.
These numbers are a beacon of hope for diversity and inclusion in our workplaces. We, as an industry, are making a difference as we learn and adopt new methods for recruiting women and making them feel welcome. Teams that include diverse viewpoints foster a more creative and innovative workforce. Studies show that morale is much higher in diverse and inclusive companies where employees feel respected, heard, and valued.
Despite the challenges we are still facing, let us look forward to the positive impacts that women are making and will make in the future. Great shifts are occurring right now within our generation of working-age adults. We are becoming dramatically more aware of our surroundings, our behaviors, our leadership styles, our hiring practices, and our treatment of minorities.
Charity Wright, former NSA Chinese offensive operative, is a security intelligence threat researcher at IntSights.