Recent cybersecurity workforce study reports reveal that a) there’s still a global shortage of 3.4 million workers in this field, and b) only 25% of the global cybersecurity workforce are women. In this episode, I had an engaging discussion with panelists Ashley Podhradsky, Vice President of Research and Economic Development at Dakota State University, and Kriti Arora, Security Global black belt, Threat Intelligence and External Attack Surface Management, Microsoft, North America, on attracting more talent, especially motivating and inspiring women to become cybersecurity professionals. One of the key messages that came out of the discussion was not to allow a certain stereotype or image to influence career decisions. A woman's innate traits and abilities, such as multitasking, problem-solving, organizational skills, curiosity, and the zeal to go above and beyond, will serve her very well as a cybersecurity professional.
Here are links to some useful cybersecurity training and awareness resources:
00:02 -- Introduction
03:33 -- Ashley Podhradsky's professional highlights
04:59 -- Kriti Arora's professional highlights
08:22 -- Dakota State University's cybersecurity initiatives
11:30 -- Kriti Arora's exposure to cybersecurity education and her reflections on the learning experience
14:17 -- Holistic approach and human element in cybersecurity
17:21 -- Core cybersecurity offerings at educational institutions
19:23 -- Cybersecurity awareness and training throughout the organization
21:43 -- Gender discrimination in cybersecurity
25:23 -- Cybersecurity stereotypes
30:05 -- Cybersecurity skillsets
33:19 -- Why women are likely to be very successful in cybersecurity
37:38 -- Industry-academic partnership
42:55 -- How would you promote cybersecurity to your female friends?
45:08 -- Resources for cybersecurity education and training
53:22 -- Final thoughts
Memorable Ashley Podhradsky Quotes/Statements
"When I was in school, I was usually the only woman and I wanted to do what I could to help bring more women into this field. It's incredibly exciting and a wonderful environment to be in."
"As I have a seat at the (senior leadership) table, I scooch over and make a seat for someone else; I find great job satisfaction and take immense pride in helping promote, support, and advance women in this field and be their champion."
"Showcasing collegiate women to middle school girls in the near-peer mentoring model has been very positive for girls to understand that they can also be a part of this cybersecurity field and experience."
"I've heard "No" a lot. But the only thing that tells me is that I'm talking to the wrong people. And I need to try something different and talk with someone else. And then I can get to that, "Yes."
"If we're only focusing on the people who are in the right age group, right now, we're never going to solve the (woman in the cybersecurity workforce) problem, we have to go back to middle school. Survey after survey and study after study tells us that girls decide if they're going to be in a STEM field by the time they leave Middle School. So we have a short period of time to introduce them to the field of cybersecurity, and help bust the stereotypes, highlight women who are doing really great things and work in partnerships to increase the visibility of the cybersecurity space."
Memorable Kriti Arora Quotes/Statements
"When we think of cybersecurity, the image that comes through is of a guy wearing a hoodie with glasses on; it's like they're working in a room, detached from others, it's the working in a basement, and that's the cybersecurity image you get if you're doing security; you have to be that guy who is not cool, who is sort of called a nerd. I think that image, the association of cyber with that image, doesn't excite women."
"I have had the experience where the male students were talking over me because they didn't see me as empowering and as progressive as my other male colleagues in the same class. I also had the experience of seeing women lead the way in security. So, I've been on both sides. But I've mostly been on the positive side, and I like to be there and empower people with that story."
"The (girls) thinking that they don't have the skills to be a cybersecurity professional is completely wrong. Their innate traits and abilities such as multitasking, problem solving, organizational skills, curiosity, the zeal to do more, and taking care of things, will serve them very well as cybersecurity professionals."
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