Myth Busting: Women in Cyber Security
27 April 2018
For a number of years now, there has been a lot of talk around the gender gap of women working in STEM roles. Being a woman working in cyber security, I wanted to write a reflective piece to pull together my own thoughts and perspective on this topic, and to hopefully encourage and empower more women to pursue a career in this exciting, ever changing field.
Growing up I was always interested in technology, and without sounding a bit ‘out there’ – crime. The combination of the two areas was fascinating and intriguing to me. The creativity and complexity that goes into the creation of the technology we use, and the technology we will be using in the future never ceases to amaze me, and the ways in which individuals seek to circumvent this technology is also very interesting. As such, throughout school I always took technology related subjects, and it made sense for me to head to University and pursue my career in that very field. However, I would be lying if I said it was always a smooth or easy ride.
During my time at University, I was one of very few women studying a computing related degree, and one of even less of those who focused on a niche area such as cyber security. Often because of this, it felt like you needed to be more resilient, and almost as though you had to work harder to ‘prove’ yourself and be taken seriously. It sometimes does take real resilience to be a woman in a STEM field, and it’s a continual battle to get more women into senior leadership and management positions. Thankfully, many organisations are addressing this, and I’ve noticed a real shift over the past two years in the recognition that having a diverse range of people in the field brings enhanced innovation and new insights to not only business, but the entire world.
Although in the past I’ve felt some of those aforementioned things, I really believe that working in cyber security is empowering, motivating and it is something I am incredibly passionate about. I've always felt that if you truly believe in something, and to be a true advocate of change, you just have to keep pushing yourself and helping others along with you on that journey. We need more female role models in the field willing to speak up and educate women to encourage them that this really is an exciting field to be in – just think of the possibilities we can all achieve together.
Here are some of the top things that I love about working in cyber security:
I often find when I speak to people about the work I do, that a common misconception still exists that working in computing related fields that you are cut off from the outside world, hidden away in a dark room or an office somewhere. In reality, this could not be further from the truth.
I am rarely sat at my own desk, particularly working in a professional services firm I am constantly travelling to new places in the world and meeting new businesses. In fact, I spend most of my time talking and interacting with people (it’s a good job really that I love to talk).
Those days where I am in the office, I sit with some of the most intelligent, interesting and fun people I have ever met, we’re always learning from each other.
The world of cyber security is often like learning a new subject or doing something new every single day. It is fast paced, and as technology changes on a daily basis, so does the cyber security landscape and the evolving, continuous threats and attacks that organisations and governments are subject to. This often presents a very challenging and complex world to live in, but presents an opportunity to work in such an exciting area. It’s safe to say that every day is interesting and a new experience that keep your mind working and in gear.
Part of the reason I wanted to pursue this career, was I knew that it would open the door to so many intelligent, analytical and problem solving minds. And I have absolutely not been disappointed. Every day I am amazed by the people I work with, their can do attitudes and the level of intelligence and insight they bring to the table.
You do not have to be extremely technical in order to work in this field, (again, something I feel to be a common misconception of cyber security), but on the flipside - if that’s what you enjoy then of course you can do that as well. The spectrum of areas and career pathways that lie within the banner of ‘cyber security’ ranges right from the softer side of security, for example training and awareness, right through to complex technical capabilities and everything in between.
At PwC we have an ever expanding team in cyber security and we are always on the lookout for hidden talent. If you are interested in a career with us, our current job opportunities can be found here. If you are a woman considering a career in cyber security, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, I would be more than happy to share my experiences and answer any questions you have. You can find me on Twitter @Katy_PwC, LinkedIn and I am contactable via email at [email protected].
I’d love to hear about any experiences fellow women in the field of cyber security or wider STEM have had, so please comment and share on this article!