Justine Bienkowski, IT team lead, BuzzFeed
During your time in the industry, have you noticed a trend in the number of women in IT security roles? What drives this trend?
When I started out in IT at my university help desk, out of a staff of 40, there were about five women. Recently, I have been interacting with more and more women in IT, especially at meetups. It's still nowhere near half, but it is encouraging to see more women becoming involved. Being technically inclined doesn't have the same stigma as it used to. In fact, being “computer illiterate” is beginning to have more of a negative connotation – with the widespread use of new technologies, like social media and smartphones, becoming standard forms of communication.
What single effort or initiative would help most in attracting, and keeping, more women in the field?
Bringing more education in engineering and technology to high schools, or even middle schools, could be a big first step. To bring more women to the field, first you need to cut through the misconceptions. After breaching the first step of familiarity, soon thereafter comes interest and passion.
On the whole, how do you think harassment, or other workplace issues impacting women, have been addressed or handled within the community?
Every woman in tech has to deal with harassment – I don't necessarily even think this is tech-specific, though it seems more magnified at times. I think that the way the community addresses these situations has gotten better, but to be frank, there are still a lot of issues with an equal amount of people experiencing harassment (especially victim-blaming). If someone wants to take a look at the status of women's rights issues in America, the first place to look is the tech industry.