This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to give a talk7 at the Day of Shecurity conference ― what’s a “talk7”? That’s seven 45 minute presentations! While it’s still fresh in my mind, I wanted to jot down my thoughts on the day.
It was amazing to see so many women interested in security. There were 200 attendees and the event sold out in <24 hours with a massive waitlist that got so long they had to close it out. It’s a travesty that women are only 11% of the current cybersecurity workforce. What I saw though, is that it was clear that there was LOTS of interest. We (that means all of us old hats) need to find ways to help recruit, mentor, and provide opportunities for those underrepresented in the field.
Unfortunately, I heard from several of the attendees at the event was how difficult they’ve found it to break into the security field. They are constantly told they didn’t have enough experience or weren’t “technical enough.” That makes me sad. Security MUST be more diverse to better support the users of our technology. I wrote up some of our thoughts around how we recruit for diversity at Elevate Security ― hopefully, it helps if you’re looking for ideas.
We made sure to ask all of the attendees at our talk about their background and how (if they were currently in security) they got into it. Security is a tough industry to enter. Engineering itself is hard, but most people consider security to be the black magic of engineering, so it seems even tougher, especially without many formal educational tracks to break in. My own background was an odd journey into the field ― I love hearing about others because it shows that with the right combination of persistence, dedication, and opportunity almost anyone cannot only break in, but contribute greatly. The first step is believing you can.
Finally, I was excited to see how well regarded the event was. Every attendee I spoke with had a fantastic time and learned a TON. It really feels like it could grow 10x next year and still have a waitlist. Kudos to Lookout, CyberSN, OWASP, and all the other great people behind the scenes making sure this event was a success!
Also, I’ll reiterate a commitment I made on LinkedIn last week. If you’re a member of an underrepresented group and want some feedback on how best to break in, I’m available to chat. Just hit me up on LinkedIn.
Thanks to my co-presenter Fish for inviting me in the first place! I look forward to seeing how amazing next year is!
*Photo credits: Laura Buitrago