| Individuals March 4, 2021


March 4, 2021

Why We Need More Women in Cybersecurity

By Kristina Balaam

To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 and the upcoming Day of Shecurity conference on March 23, I guest hosted the Lookout podcast Endpoint Enigma for an episode. I enlisted the support of my colleague Victoria Mosby to share our experiences navigating the cybersecurity sector. In addition to working as a federal sales engineer at Lookout, Victoria is also an active member of the Lookout Foundation and the Day of Shecurity initiative.

As a member of the Lookout threat intelligence team, I’m often asked: “how do I break into the cybersecurity and IT industry?” Here are just a few of my key takeaways from my conversation with Victoria. I hope these will be helpful as we continue to strive for diversity and inclusion within our industry.

1. Diversity is key to problem solving and innovation

Here’s an interesting tidbit: the modern tech industry actually began as a majority-female industry. During the 1950s and 1960s, early programming roles were so dominated by women that one technology company spoke about labor in “girl hours” rather than “man hours.” At the time, about 90% of programmers and systems analysts were women. This is the inverse of now, where women only hold about 24% of all cybersecurity jobs.

There are countless types of problems in security that require different approaches. As security engineers and researchers, we are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of attackers who are looking for reactive ways to compromise individuals and organizations. With a homogenous workforce, it makes the creative thinking aspect to security a lot more difficult.

According to Victoria, “Cybersecurity is everyone’s problem.” I couldn’t agree more. Every one of us brings an unique perspective to problem solving because of our background and experience. 

2. Mentors and role models are critical

We also talked about the important role mentorship and role models play in increasing diversity. For underrepresented groups especially, it is important to see others who look like you doing the jobs that you might want to do.

As you’ll hear in the podcast, the Day of Shecurity gives women a chance to connect with other women in the industry. For me, the 2018 event opened the door for me to explore opportunities at Lookout, where I was eventually hired.

So if you’re interested in the field, but don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend you attend this year’s conference. Since 2017, hundreds of women have attended this free one-day conference in San Francisco, Boston and Toronto. This year it’s even easier to attend as everything is virtual. The workshops will give you the chance to gain hands-on experiences, and you’ll get to network with other women in the industry.

3. Diversity and inclusion requires a team effort

Cybersecurity has a long way to go before it can be called an even playing field. To get there, it has to be a team effort. Not only do we need more diverse leaders and role models, we also need people from all genders and backgrounds to lend support, time and effort to the cause.

If you’re interested in learning more why diversity is important in tech, check out my Endpoint Enigma episode with Victoria. To explore collaboration opportunities, get in touch with the Lookout Foundation.

Last but not least, please reach out to the women in your network to let them know about the Day of Shecurity conference. For those who want to get involved in the cybersecurity industry, this is a perfect way to get started.

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Author

Kristina Balaam,
Security Intelligence Engineer