Author – Claire Fulford
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton
Earlier this year, members of the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) along with industry peers, participated in a Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) event focused on women in cyber. PM&C invited participants to respond to several questions, to understand and address the causes of low participation by women in cyber security careers. This was a key action outlined in Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy, under the theme of A Cyber Smart Nation.
During the event, questions were discussed in round table settings followed by panel discussions to bring key points to the larger group.
The first question asked was ‘What are the barriers to women choosing cyber security careers? What can be done to address these barriers?’ One of the key outtakes was that “both within the industry and externally, role models and mentors were a significant factor for participants pursuing a career in cyber security. These role models or mentors were not always female, some participants described males who had encouraged and supported them in their endeavours. Importantly, participants noted that role models could be anyone in their lives, from parents, to friends, to management staff, to people they had never met”.
Interestingly, ISACA’s (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) 2017 Global Survey of Women in Tech asked a similar question regarding to barriers for women in technology in general. Almost half of participants raised a lack of mentors and role models as the top two barriers to entry.
Finally, the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity – sponsored by (ISC)2 and Booz Allen Hamilton had 19,641 respondents from 170 countries, likely making it the largest study of its kind ever conducted. The study indicated that 61% of women surveyed reported job satisfaction and more likelihood to succeed in their careers when mentoring, training, sponsorship and leadership programs were available.
The correlation between how women feel about their role in the industry and the offering of mentorship and support is clear across the globe. In August, the Australian Women in Security Network will host a panel discussion at the Gartner Security & Risk Summit. The panel will compromise of male and female AWSN members providing their feedback on their roles as mentors and role models in the industry and the impact of great mentoring relationships. When landing on a panel topic, we saw the PM&C commentary about the need for mentors and role models as a key outcome – and one that should be talked about more broadly.
With many incredible leaders in the industry, and some emerging talent to be harnessed, the AWSN is always encouraging mentoring conversations and highlighting the great work of some of Australia’s cyber security role models. If you are having trouble finding a mentor, please reach out here, or alternatively, let us know how mentors have made an impact in your career?