Women In Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity field is male-dominated; this isn’t a secret. Men make up about 76% of the current workforce. However, more women are taking steps to start cybersecurity careers, up to 24% from just 11% in 2017. With an estimated 600,000 job openings in the U.S. alone and an average starting salary of $67k (even higher for Evolve Academy graduates) we at Evolve Security know that more women joining the cybersecurity industry is a key solution to closing the talent gap.
To gain more insights on this topic, I sat down with Evolve Academy’s Lead Instructor and female cybersecurity expert Aneesa Sobhy, who has established herself as an advocate and resource for women in cybersecurity, founding groups such as Women and Minorities in Cybersecurity and the upstate New York chapter of Girls Who Code. Having started her cyber journey 8 years ago with a traditional route (four-year degree and growth trajectory), she recognizes that her path is not always the most common for women in cyber and that women can succeed in the field in many ways. Here are some of Aneesa’s tips, expectations, and resources.
Adapt to Grow
“Keep an open mind. Just because you have a vision of what cybersecurity is and the job you want doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to other options,” Aneesa explains. When starting her college career, the cybersecurity industry wasn’t even on her radar until she took an Intro to IT class. Once she decided it was the career path she wanted to take, she initially pictured herself as a hacker or pentester; yet, she has never held either of those positions. Aneesa actually started as a part-time IT help desk assistant at her college, allowing her to get her foot in the door of the cyber-world. Through time and experience, she was able to create the career she is currently thriving in.
“Your start in cyber might be through a help desk position like myself, or even marketing or operations,” says Aneesa. “Just because you don’t start where you thought you would, doesn’t mean you can’t control your career path and grow into the cybersecurity position you ultimately want.” According to Forbes, companies with “at least three women in leading positions saw a 66% increase in ROI," proving just how valuable women are in every field. It also reiterates Aneesa’s above point; it doesn’t matter how women get into cybersecurity, as long as they do it and make an impact. The perspective and decision-making skills women bring to the table literally pay off.
Research & Connections
For women in cybersecurity to find success and gain confidence, they’ll want to connect with networks of other successful women. “A great place to start is WiCyS (Women in Cybersecurity). Membership is affordable and you’re immediately connected with other women in cyber and granted access to networking resources such as female-centric Slack channels, career growth tools and more,” Aneesa recommends. Female-led LinkedIn groups like Women and Minorities in Cybersecurity are also helpful forums to join to learn about how other women got into the field, how they overcome adversity in the workplace and advice on how to succeed in a male-dominated field. You can also follow these top 20 successful women in cyber on Twitter.
“When you’re just starting out, utilize any and every free resource you can find,” recommends Aneesa. “Evolve’s free Fundamentals Course is a great place to start to help identify your natural talent and areas of interest.”
“When you’re just starting out, utilize any and every free resource you can find,” recommends Aneesa. “Evolve’s free Fundamentals Course is a great place to start to help identify your natural talent and areas of interest.” She also suggests searching topics such as “top 10 jobs in cybersecurity” or “top cybersecurity topics” in general. Taking the time to research will help you hone in on areas that appeal to you and will help guide your education journey.
Join Other Women in Cybersecurity
Working in the cybersecurity industry doesn’t mean you need to be a hoodie-wearing hacker. There are a wide variety of challenging, high-paying jobs in the field that don’t require software-coding skills that women excel in such as project management, cloud robotics, analyst, GRC, compliance, privacy, finance, product management and more. These jobs require strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as analytical thinking, and leadership skills.
Our Bootcamps are strategically designed to help women and anyone interested in cybersecurity find success in the field. To learn more before you apply, join us for a free information session; you can register for our next one here. If you’re ready to apply to our next Cybersecurity Bootcamp beginning October 24, start your application here! Please also feel free to connect with me and Aneesa on LinkedIn. We are happy to answer questions and we will continue to be champions for women in cybersecurity!