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As far back as 1984, 37 percent of women were entering the fields of math and science; so how is it that women make up only 11 percent of today’s tech and security workforce? As a woman working in the cybersecurity field, I consider the issue of women in security as close to my heart. So, when I had the opportunity to attend an event devoted entirely to the topic, you’d better believe I signed up immediately!

I was indeed privileged to attend “Uniting Women in Cyber Symposium,” an inaugural event organized by CIT and Mach 37 and made possible by a number of generous sponsors. To say I was impressed would be a tremendous understatement. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a security event where women outnumbered men —  especially by such a large margin. It was inspiring to be surrounded by such impressive women, and the atmosphere overall was both uplifting and empowering.

We saw a massive showing of support and expertise from industry giants like Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman, Capital One and MITRE. We also saw strong representation from tech VCs such as Razor’s Edge and In-Q-Tel — and from smaller, female founded and operated cybersecurity companies like Trinity Cyber, Enveil and others. Everyone there shared a common goal: to encourage and inspire women to pursue careers in cybersecurity. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a sampling of what I heard at the symposium:

“At the end of the day, cybersecurity is about human beings attacking other human beings.”

Arlette Hart, Senior Cybersecurity Executive

“You don’t have to start at the bottom and work your way up.”

— Amy Howland, Chief Information Security Officer, CSRA

“If someone calls you a nerd, embrace it. As long as you know your stuff, they can’t touch you. A monkey can check a bunch of boxes. You need to do more.”

–Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Managing Director and Global Leader of Cyber Solutions, Promontory, an IBM Company

“Cyber takes a village.”

–Karen Steig, Cyber Functional Talent Lead, Booz Allen Hamilton

“The best jobs I’ve ever had are the ones that scared me the most.”

–Tiffany Olson Jones, CEO, Distil Networks

“Don’t sit there and wait until they come for you – speak up!”

–Alexa Raad, COO, Farsight Security

“World War II was when cybersecurity was born…it’s important to remember women pioneered this field.”

–Liza Mundy, Award Winning Author of “Code Girls – The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II”

The overarching message — that there’s no single path to cyber, and that women are critical to the future of the field — was strong enough to convince even the least technologically savvy among us to consider pursuing security.

Speaking of which, are you inspired to pursue a career in cybersecurity? Good news! Merritt Group can help with everything from messaging and branding to social media, media relations and more. Get in touch!

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