Creating Pathways for Women In Cyber: The Business of People

Posted on by RSAC Editorial Team

If you didn’t make it to the Equality Lounge at this year’s RSA Conference, you missed out on hearing from some of the top industry leaders making waves and driving change across cybersecurity. Didn’t make it? Don’t worry as RSA Conference 2023 is sure to feature more inclusive security content – the push for industry equality isn’t going anywhere!

On Tuesday, a stellar panel of Women in Cyber to Keep an Eye On featured the following leaders and a quote from each on the current state of the industry or their experience getting into it:

Beth Dewitt – Partner & Board Director, National Leader Privacy and Data Protection at Deloitte Canada
“I like to look through things with a relationship lens and a people lens. Who are we ultimately trying to solve for? We need diversity to answer that question.”

Nicole Dove: Head of Security of Games Division at Riot Games
“When I thought about getting into cyber, I called a woman to get her perspective first. This industry is rapidly growing and we use technology in everything we do in business.”

Equality Lounge

Diana Kelley – CTO & Co-Founder at CyberCurve; Executive Board Member at Cyber Future Foundation & WiCyS
“People who leave cybersecurity are leaving because they don’t have a clear-cut path.”

Jennifer Minella – Founder and Principal Advisor at Viszen Security
“We all face a bit of imposter syndrome starting out. I was no different. There are high expectations and it's a steep learning curve but in time you gain confidence when you realize the impact you can make.”

Lauren Zabierek: Executive Director of the Cyber Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center
“If we don’t have diverse teams, we won’t be able to see and mitigate threats fully. It’s as simple as that.”

After the panel, the RSAC editorial team spoke with Dove on her experience breaking into the industry as a woman of color and what steps she feels the industry needs to continue taking to increase equality across the board.

“I came into the cybersecurity industry not to be a trailblazing woman of color but because I was following my interests. I thought it was interesting how technology touched everything so why not figure out how to create a space for myself here? I started my career in finance where the circumstances were quite similar and that helped me prepare for much of the same in tech. I got used to being the only woman of color in the room. The only one with purple hair. What it did do was to light a fire inside me to say ‘hey, now that I am in a senior leadership position, how can I create pathways for other women to be in this industry?’”

Dove, who is responsible for creating alignment between the business team and the information security teams at Riot Games says she is most passionate about bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Currently, 24% of the roles in cyber are filled by women. That’s up from 9% a few years ago but the work is not done yet says Dove.

“In order to move the needle, we’ve got to start thinking about how we are sourcing for talent. The reality is that a lot of opportunities in this industry get filled by people who are connected to the decision makers. We need to see movement -- on both sides -- for the people looking for opportunities to be able to connect to these decision makers and on the flip side for those decision makers to challenge themselves to look in different places. Sometimes it’s unconscious bias for the decision makers as they operate in the spheres they know.”

“I think this is where the talent acquisition partners come in and begin to hold us accountable and set goals and be intentional, just like we do anything else in business. We should look at this as the business of people. I think there amazing organizations like Cyversity, Women in Security & Privacy and Share the Mic in Cyber. We have to be connecting with those organizations and finding talent. If we keep doing the same things we have always done, we are going to continue getting the same results. We must be innovative and creative in how we attract and seek talent. It’s also not only about getting people in the door but about keeping them there and thinking about their experience once they get there. Having a lot more dialogue, being self-aware, and recognize our own habits and biases is a combination of what ultimately will move the needle.”

On the strides made so far, Dove remains optimistic, saying technology has an opportunity to be a disruptor and leader in the equality space buoyed by access and resources to go along with the opportunities ahead. In terms of the progress she’s already seen, including at RSA Conference, Dove says, “I though this panel and this lounge have been amazing. It looks and feels like something for women that women thought of, and features women owned companies and products and swag geared towards and targeted for women. That’s inclusion and diversity. We must create safe spaces for women and people of color and cater to them. We need more of this. To challenge ourselves. RSA Conference creating a space and companies like Deloitte behind events like this – it’s a lot of what it takes to move the needle and create space for women to learn and be encouraged to come into the cybersecurity industry.”

RSAC Editorial Team

Editorial, RSA Conference

RSAC Insights Professional Development & Personnel Management

professional development & workforce professional development

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