If you haven’t already watched RBG – a movie about the incredible life of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – you should. Amongst the brilliant quotes Ginsburg brings us, one sticks out: “I ask no favor for my sex, all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks”. Gender inequality remains shockingly prevalent, and cybersecurity is far from an exception.
Last week, after months of planning, the Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest) Women’s Network held its first event. It’s was a great way to share experiences and advice from a range of women in the company; from the developers who built the product six years ago, to the latest hires across the globe. The goal? To promote inclusivity and diversity to create equal opportunities within and outside Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest). With upcoming events in London, Dallas and San Francisco, I’m excited for the impact this can have.
In a recent podcast, I chatted with colleagues about our experiences in security, as well as the challenges, opportunities and future of women in security. Here’s the three areas that stuck out most for me:
1. Progress is not quick enough
One of the top ongoing studies in this field is the Women in Cybersecurity report, published every two years. The latest 2017 report found that the global cybersecurity workforce is 11 percent female, up from 10% in 2015. That’s not a quick enough, or substantial enough change. Even the more progressive companies, such as Google, are less than a third female. This must change at a quicker rate for all levels within organizations; from interns to the board.
2. Diversity of thought has business benefits
With a smaller pool of talent to choose from, businesses feel the strain of this inequality too. With more and more demand for an increasingly limited talent pool, having a culture that doesn’t encourage diversity puts off a sizable chunk of potential recruits.
But there’s more to it than the size of the talent pool. With different perspectives, we’re better able to address challenges differently and avoid groupthink (this is a topic I’ll be addressing in future blogs, so watch out for those!).
3. Using gender as springboard for wider diversity
It’s important that this isn’t just about women; gender equality applies equally to males. In fact, it was encouraging to see so many males offering support for the Women’s Network.
We should also think of this as a springboard for wider diversity. “Women” in security is not a homogenous block; women of different ethnicities will typically experience different forms of discrimination than their white counterparts. For all involved, we need to be providing equal opportunities, as well as a good work life balance that allows for flexibility amid varying commitments.
To hear more of our thoughts, listen to our podcast on the Women’s Network Launch, and stay tuned for my next blog on the importance of diversity as a whole.