Many of you in the cybersecurity industry already know about my dedication and passion to encourage more women to enter into and remain in the cybersecurity and broader tech sector. Having spoken around the world at numerous conferences, founded ISACA’s SheLeadsTech program, and participated in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2018, 2019, and 2020, I accepted KBI’s invitation to contribute monthly to the blog without hesitation.
Despite the improvements made in organisations’ gender equity programs, we still have a long way to go. And KBI’s mission to be a voice in cyber and address ongoing issues for the betterment of the industry is playing a key role. So, I applaud KB and the company’s efforts and appreciate the opportunity to continue to explore and increase female representation through education and knowledge-sharing.
In fact, the overwhelming objective in starting the ISACA SheLeadsTech program was to work towards solving the under-representation of women in technology leadership roles and the tech workforce more generally. This important program is all about connecting within the industry, helping women tell their stories and making the rest of the world aware of the challenges they face, and why we should all care about gender equality. Ultimately, this initiative prepares women to lead.
During the initial stages of the program, I realised that even those who support the idea of empowering women and girls often do not understand the issues facing them or the severity of the problem.
In under five years, SheLeadsTech has grown from a base of zero to being embraced on five continents, and now is one of the core programs of ISACA’s newly launched One In Tech foundation. Over 10,000 community professionals have engaged in SheLeadsTech events and online platforms to promote gender equality, address the gender pay gap, enhance the careers of women in technology and offer a safe space to discuss their experiences.
Mentoring is another key component to the program and critical for the cybersecurity industry sector. I have personally mentored over 25 IT security professionals and regularly seek ways to further extend mentoring opportunities at the university-level onwards.
I learned early the importance of finding both male and female role models and mentors, which provides further support, encouragement and guidance. It’s also important that we support the needs of indigenous and isolated learners in the fields of information security and governance. For fifteen years, I have worked with ISACA’s Papua New Guinea chapter to assist in setting up an informal networking group for women in the chapter that encourages greater participation by women in board-level activities, as well as leading professional development programs to ensure their credentials are maintained.
So, what more can be done? In my experience, it is a multi-faceted approach. It involves businesses providing flexible work options, sponsoring and encouraging young professionals to understand various career paths and rewards, and instilling in female students the confidence to follow their passion and have resilience.
While there has been occasional progress during my 25-plus years working in IT and information security, the gender disparity in the technology field remains pronounced. Addressing this gender gulf is everyone’s responsibility – men, women, employers, educators and industry associations.
I look forward to discussing the skills shortage and more issues in upcoming blogs. And I would love to hear your ideas, too! I can be reached via LinkedIn on https://www.linkedin.com/in/jo-stewart-rattray-cism-cgeit-cisa-crisc-cp-4991a12/