What advice would I give to women who want to enter the cyber security industry?
- Take chances and don’t let yourself be bullied or intimidated
This is easier said than done in such a male dominated environment, but in my experience the worst bullying I have encountered has been from other women in the industry, and not from men. Stand up for yourself, and don’t be afraid to fight for what you want.
- Network and find mentors
Go to meetups and networking events and find other women who are also in the cyber security industry who you can learn from. I did this hugely in my early days in the industry and I still do it today, and I count Professor Sue Black and Dr Emma Philpott MBE as two of my biggest inspirations in the tech and cyber security industries.
- Look for opportunities on an internal basis first
The best place to start looking for opportunities in the cyber security industry is within your current organisation, so liaise with your own security team. There is often a myriad of opportunities in areas such as training, program management, incident response, cyber security and tech writing and cyber security awareness and training.
- Be confident
This is often easier said than done and most women will find this difficult regardless of what industry they are in, and especially if they are feeling ignored, ostracised or outnumbered by their male counterparts. Speak and act decisively, even if you don’t feel that way.
- Learn, learn….and learn some more!
Cyber security, as with any career, is a constant learning journey. Every day there are new challenges and new threats to overcome, and there is room in the industry for managers, generalists and for those who have deep technical expertise.
My story is not over yet. I still have much I want to do and accomplish in the cyber security industry. I have many more people, businesses and organisations to reach in order to raise awareness of the growing cyber threat and why they should take cyber security more seriously.
If I can do it, anyone can do it. Never give up, never surrender…and in the words of the great British actor Brian Blessed, “Follow your dreams, and don’t let the b****rds grind you down.”