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5 women in cybersecurity: Let’s push the gender barrier

Cybersecurity women

Women are underrepresented in the tech industry – no doubt about it. According to Statista, women hold an average of 17.8% of the tech jobs in the top five US tech companies. When it comes to women in cybersecurity, the stats are equally sobering.

Women are significantly outnumbered in this male-dominated field. In tech, gender stereotypes are generally still upheld. Women are often viewed as less capable than their male colleagues because of the differences in the way that they think.

Still, some women out there have managed to shatter those stereotypes. In this post, we’ll briefly address the issue of gender inequality in the industry, and pay homage to the top five women in cybersecurity today.

Gender inequality

If we were to tell you to picture a gamer playing Call of Duty, what image comes up? Is it of a nerdy guy focused intently on the screen? Don’t feel bad if it was – that’s the way that Hollywood has trained us to think.

But the reality is that there are female gamers, and they’re fierce competitors who love what they do. Now, granted, there’s a big difference between playing a game and creating security software. That the number of gamers is relatively evenly split shows that women are just as interested in tech as men, though.

So, why do we see these numbers in the chart below?

Women tech gender gap stats

Source: Statista

This chart is a comparison of the number of women working for the top five tech companies in the United States. As you can see, women make up less than a quarter of the workforce in basic tech jobs.

Women in management roles in these industries fare better, holding an average of 28% of the positions.

Why men outnumber women in cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is something of a boy’s club. Men are seen as more capable when it comes to the kind of logic required in creating software. While recent studies have proven that women are just as capable of cognitive tasks, it’s challenging to shift the programming of our minds over the last few decades.

It’s also not as simple as the boys not letting the girls play. Women may not want to work in these male-dominated industries. Many women in cybersecurity complain of dealing with sexual harassment or innuendos regularly. They also often find that it’s difficult to get colleagues to take them seriously.

There are, however, some women in the industry that don’t mind making a splash. And that’s encouraging.

Cybersecurity statistics predict that we’ll face as much as $6 trillion in damages from cybercrime by 2021. While it’s difficult to get exact stats about hackers, we can draw conclusions based on the relative gender equality in the gaming industry. If almost half of the gamers are women, is it such a leap to think that we might see similar numbers in the cybercrime industry?

If that’s indeed the case, surely it makes sense also to get the female perspective on how to beat cybercriminals.

5 amazing women in cybersecurity today:

1. Angela McKay

Senior Director of Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy within Customer Security and Trust, Microsoft

Angela’s title is a mouthful, but she’s arguably one of the most powerful women in this field. She helped to develop Microsoft’s cybersecurity policy.  She was also instrumental in building the company’s cybersecurity capacity.

For a woman to achieve a position this important in the industry is impressive enough. Even more impressive, though, is that she did it in just over ten years.

2. Kara Sprague

Executive Vice President and General Manager, F5 Application Services

Kara Sprague currently holds a senior position at F5 Networks. She specializes in IT infrastructure and is a pretty fierce competitor. With two master’s degrees from MIT and a black belt in Taekwondo, Kara is breaking all kinds of stereotypes.

Kara serves on the board of the group, Girls Who Code. The group seeks to achieve gender equality for women.

3. Debbie Umbach

Vice President of Marketing, Fairwinds

Debbie is another impressive lady. She only joined Fairwinds this year and has already made a name for herself. Previously at BitSight, she has extensive knowledge of cybersecurity insurance and the management of cybersecurity risks.

She made the change because she wanted a new challenge, and to experience a different work culture.

4. Sheila Jordan

Chief Digital Technology Officer, Honeywell

Interestingly enough, Sheila switched companies this year. It just goes to show, the ladies in this industry are movers and shakers. Previously the Chief Information Officer at Symantec, she’s described as passionate and driven. These qualities are doubtless the reason for her achieving such high levels of success.

5. Keenan Skelly

CEO, Spark Security Solutions

This lady takes no prisoners. After spending time working for Homeland Security in the United States, she decided to take on the challenge of being in the private sector. As we see, she nailed it and is now the CEO of a multinational firm.

Final words

Do you have what it takes to make it into our next roundup of the top five women in the industry? As these five ladies show, with grit and determination, the glass ceiling becomes something of an illusion.

About today’s writer

Marina is a 70-year-old soul captured in a 27-year-old body. As a modern granny she enjoys baking and gardening. The world of online safety has intrigued her since she discovered that her selfies are not safe on the internet or her phone.

Marina has a degree in international economics, but she hasn’t worked in that field. She thinks informing people about the danger that lurks online is much more important.


Top Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

3 thoughts on “5 women in cybersecurity: Let’s push the gender barrier”

  1. Thank you Marina &Christy! This is very encouraging fr all women.

    Christy, I’ve had a few problems on your blog, so I’m hoping this comment goes through normally. Then I will know it’s just one of those WP burps.

  2. I try to open a discussion with the young kids I teach about tolerance in gaming and other such fields for girls…I have been so impressed with the kids’ responses, attitudes, and thoughts on the matter…

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