Thursday 13 July 2017

The need for cyber security role models globally

By Claire Fulford

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton

Earlier this year, members of the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) along with industry peers, participated in a Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) event focused on women in cyber.  PM&C invited participants to respond to several questions, to understand and address the causes of low participation by women in cyber security careers. This was a key action outlined in Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy, under the theme of A Cyber Smart Nation.

During the event, questions were discussed in roundtable settings followed by panel discussions to bring key points to the larger group.

The first question asked was ‘What are the barriers to women choosing cyber security careers?  What can be done to address these barriers?’ One of the key outtakes was that “both within the industry and externally, role models and mentors were a significant factor for participants pursuing a career in cyber security. These role models or mentors were not always female, some participants described males who had encouraged and supported them in their endeavours. Importantly, participants noted that role models could be anyone in their lives, from parents, to friends, to management staff, to people they had never met”.

Interestingly, ISACA’s (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) 2017 Global Survey of Women in Tech asked a similar question regarding to barriers for women in technology in general.  Almost half of participants raised a lack of mentors and role models as the top two barriers to entry. 

Finally, the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity – sponsored by (ISC)2 and Booz Allen Hamilton had 19,641 respondents from 170 countries, likely making it the largest study of its kind ever conducted.   The study indicated that 61% of women surveyed reported job satisfaction and more likelihood to succeed in their careers when mentoring, training, sponsorship and leadership programs were available.

The correlation between how women feel about their role in the industry and the offering of mentorship and support is clear across the globe.

In August, the Australian Women in Security Network will host a panel discussion at the Gartner Security & Risk Summit.  The panel will compromise of male and female AWSN members providing their feedback on their roles as mentors and role models in the industry and the impact of great mentoring relationships. When landing on a panel topic, we saw the PM&C commentary about the need for mentors and role models as a key outcome – and one that should be talked about more broadly.

With many incredible leaders in the industry, and some emerging talent to be harnessed, the AWSN is always encouraging mentoring conversations and highlighting the great work of some of Australia’s cyber security role models.  If you are having trouble finding a mentor, please reach out here, join us at Gartner in Sydney on 22 August or alternatively, let us know how mentors have made an impact in your career?

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Saturday 8 July 2017

ARTICLE SERIES - Highlights of AWSN - interview with Iresha Fernando

By Amanda-Jane Turner, Chief Editor & National Blog Manager of the official AWSN Blog

The Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) was founded only a couple of years ago by Jacqui Loustau and yet is already maturing into a respected association supporting and encouraging diversity in the security industry. It is with great pleasure that the AWSN shares with you the following interview with long-term supporter, social media manager and active member of the AWSN, Iresha Fernando.

It was early 2016, and Iresha was seeking some type of networking group that mentored and encouraged women, when she received an invitation to attend a networking lunch. Seeing it as a good opportunity to build and strengthen her career network she accepted. AWSN was in its infancy and Iresha did not know what to expect or what a networking group would even look like or operate. Iresha was pleasantly surprised that there were others like herself at the networking event looking not only to gain support but also to provide it and share their own experiences. She saw passionate leaders and mentors who willingly shared their time and ideas to help ‘newbies’ like her. Iresha quickly realised that AWSN is the perfect group for her to be a part of to build her professional network and confidence.

A year on from this and Iresha has attended several AWSN facilitated networking events and because of AWSN has met and been inspired by many experienced women in the security industry. She credits the support of AWSN with building her confidence and presentation skills and for the first time in her life had the opportunity to present at a university. AWSN soon had her managing social media for the group which has honed her skills and increased her confidence further. Additionally, this has led to good recognition in the office (balancing work and D&I in the group) which lead her gain a well-deserved promotion at her paid employment. All this within a very short time being with the company. Most importantly Iresha said is that AWSN helped her to find a good mentor who trusts in her.

Iresha emphasised that AWSN ensures that there are people out there to help no matter who you are or what your background is.  Iresha added that she likes and respects the committee/leaders of AWSN group and states that they are a bunch of humble women who are trying to build a better career place for other women.

AWSN highlights for Iresha are the Go Girl For IT participation and when Jacqui won the AISA Diversity award in 2016.

Iresha is proud to be a part of AWSN and happily shares how the network has made her believe in herself and help her achieve things she had not thought possible.

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.