An Inconvenient Truth for Women

 

EnterpriseGRC Solutions has a strong commitment to mentoring and career development.  We believe the number one way to remove barriers to women in technology is for women to mentor men and for men to mentor women.  An outcome of this practice is the following article from a well-respected colleague, Nathan Chung.  You can see this article and read more about Nathan on LinkedIn.

Here are Nathan's Observations:

The few. Not many women work in Information Technology today, even less in Information Security. IT is often considered a man’s job. The number of women gets even fewer the higher up the IT organization. 

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Management support lacking. Despite the breaches we see in the news, many companies will still see Information Security as just another IT service that does not generate sales or revenue. As such, support for Information Security is often limited. Although there are many Information Security jobs that go unfilled, they tend to be mid to high level and provide a barrier to entry for many women.

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Narrow perceptions. When people sometimes think about women in Information Security, one of the first jobs that come to mind is an auditor, which is reflected in studies and surveys. Due to this perception, many women may choose not to pursue a career in Information Security when there are many different jobs other than audit.

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Men. IT is still considered a men’s club with few women. It gets worst when those same men come from countries that treat women differently compared to the United States. Some of those men will bring with them the same bias and not give women the opportunities they deserve.

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Other women. Traditionally women are more comfortable when they are with other women. However, there is a dark side. Some women can be very competitive or downright hostile even to other women. I have heard stories from my peers that show this happening at some organizations.

Here are Nathan's recommendations:

What you can do:

  1. Be your best and thrive - Put your best foot forward and don’t look back. Work hard and do the most amazing job. Work the job you want to do without being held back. The sky’s the limit.
  2. Keep learning - Information Security continues to evolve and change rapidly. This demands constant learning to keep up. There are many free classes online that are readily accessible regardless of their background. 
  3. Find a mentor and be a mentor - A mentor can teach you and help guide your career. They can help you see things you might not have considered, or find the roads less traveled. You can also be a mentor to others to help them to succeed. For each passing of the torch, more women can enter the field.
  4. Get started - Many women may consider a career in Information Security to be out of reach due to their current career background or history. Don’t let that hold you back. There are many paths and different jobs. It pays dividends long term to find a job you love. All it takes is to get started.
  5. Break the rules and the glass ceiling - Many women are often held back and feel that they can’t succeed in Information Security. You don’t need a regular job to thrive, you can break the rules. I have seen many women go down different paths: Consulting, blogging, and creating their own businesses. Those paths led to amazing careers where they continue to break the glass ceiling and thrive.

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I was amazed at RSA a few years ago attending a panel of five women who came from diverse backgrounds to become information security directors and CISOs at large companies. Those amazing women are leading the way and inspire others. They show that not only is it possible for women to work in Information Security, but they can succeed.

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You can see this article and read more about Nathan on LinkedIn.