It goes without saying that the technology and cybersecurity industry struggles with a diversity and inclusivity problem. And as we contend with an ever-extending skills gap, it has never been more crucial that we leverage otherwise untapped talent pools; of which, women are one.
In its third consecutive year, Eskenzi PR will be hosting the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber awards, which aims to shed light on the wonderful women paving the way for future generations in cybersecurity.
However, if you’re wondering “what’s the point of such events?”, here are just 4 reasons why women-focused events are important:
Women-focused events are pivotal in raising awareness around the challenges and concerns women face. It is an opportunity for us, and especially the wider community, to come to terms with these issues, and pull together an action plan to resolve them. Equally important, it normalises experiences. There are times when an experience might be brushed off through gas-lighting or simply misunderstood. Being in a room full of people who can understand and empathise with you is invaluable in validating one’s feelings.
It also gives us a chance to consider the diversity that exists among women, including the experiences of women of colour and/or women with a disability or chronic condition.
It’s a Man’s World
As much as we would like the world to operate exclusively by meritocracy, the reality is that connections matter. It is through connections that we might gain insight into what a particular company is looking for in a candidate, benefit from referrals or find a mentor to cultivate new skills.
Our society has largely been built by a network of men who have risen up the ranks with each other. It seems only fair to equalise the playing field by forming communities where women can come together and support each other’s professional goals.
You Can’t Be, What You Can’t See
When developing one’s aspirations, we often take into account our interests, talent, values but also the career progression of others as a reflection of what could be. However, if we fail to see someone who looks like us in a particular field, chances are we will dismiss the opportunity as an option – subconsciously or not.
The technology and cybersecurity industry has long been a culprit of this. The stereotype of the man in a hoodie hunched behind a glowing screen remains prevalent, manifesting in conference theatres jam-packed with white males. And so, it is not unfamiliar for women in tech to hear a remark along the lines of “oh, you don’t look like a cybersecurity threat analyst” or “I would never have guessed you work in Information Security”.
Yet, we are no less competent… just have a little peruse of last year’s Most Inspiring Women in Cyber nominees and you’ll see that every single one of them are a phenomenal asset to the industry; and they are all role models for women seeking a career in cybersecurity.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
Frequently, women are taught to stay humble. By that, it is implied that we should keep our success to ourselves. While I don’t stand for arrogance, we should never feel ashamed to proudly and confidently speak about our accomplishments. If we don’t do it, who will? No one is going to take the time to negotiate the salary you deserve, nor secure your dream role for you – that is up to you.
Women-focused events provide a safe space for women to nurture the practice of self-advocacy and eventually, take this into the ‘outside’ world.
Many men have proven to be strong allies for women. Nevertheless, it would be naive to think that the world we live in today has not been moulded with a bias that has put women at a disadvantage for years. Sometimes, what we really need are women-focused events/awards such as the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Award, to tackle this imbalance.
Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards 2022 will be hosted at the BT Tower in November, and we’ll be looking to you to highlight the incredible women doing good work within our industry! Nominations will be open in the next couple of months, so do keep an eye out.