IWD 2020 interview: LogRhythm’s Joanne Wong & Ping Identity's Vivienne Horsfall
As a celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re running a series of interviews with women in technology. LogRhythm’s APJ vice president of marketing Joanne Wong and Ping Identity A/NZ marketing manager Vivienne Horsfall share their thoughts.
What does the cybersecurity industry need to do to attract more women in the years ahead?
For an industry that is getting increasingly complex and vital to businesses and countries’ digital agendas, we first need to reiterate the importance of cybersecurity and how it can make a difference in society. This requires education and awareness of cybersecurity’s impact and the repercussions of weak cybersecurity postures. We will then be able to attract a diversity of talents, who are already hard to come by today.
Indeed, when it comes to attracting a diversity of talents, having top management’s endorsement and advocacy towards gender fairness is instrumental. The need to first ensure hiring policies are fair, and that candidates are evaluated based on the value, experience, and skills they bring to ensure a diversity of talents is key.
Forward-looking organisations will also recognise that to even ensure we build and sustain the pool of talents, we need to find ways to introduce to children and establish their interest in STEM, especially young girls, to get them excited about having a future career in this area. We could start by removing the misconception that STEM is only limited to boys or that it only involves laboratories or research.
What does the cybersecurity industry need to do to ensure that more women have the opportunity to achieve senior leadership roles in the industry and within the organisations in which they work?
A large inhibitor of true workplace parity is unconscious bias – that of the workplace towards women, and of women towards themselves. And that this is not only unique to the cybersecurity industry. Hidden bias can hinder gender fairness at work because of, for example, deep-seated assumptions about their abilities in male-dominated fields, such as tech. On the other hand, women may also have imposed glass ceilings on themselves due to social stereotypes about their abilities.
In order to ensure women have the opportunity to achieve senior leadership roles, businesses need to acknowledge that the gender equality gap still exists and set realistic goals and structured plans to help close the gap. Mandating organisations to have gender diversity on corporate boards would be good, but only scratching the surface. Having leaders mentor other employees with strong leadership skills is a positive demonstration of the organisation’s support and effort to moving the needle. After all, equality is a shared responsibility - it's not just up to HR or the CEO.
Any other comments you would like to make?
In the digital economy that we are all already in, I believe having a diversity of talents is a business enabler. Women bring to the table different perspectives from valuable experience and intuition that cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence, and in fact, supplement the insights we gather from data.
“When it comes to cybersecurity, there are several key strategies which need to be considered and shifting the conversation is paramount. As an industry, we need to place focus on promoting the diverse career paths within cybersecurity which are available and reframe misconceptions. The problem isn’t that there are too many men in the industry, but rather that there are not enough women.
Women need to share their stories to inspire young girls because who we see thriving in the world teaches us how to see ourselves, how to think about our own paths and our own possibilities.
At the same time, we need to enable young girls! Participating in education programs like Design and Technology and providing real-world experiences are vital to capture and challenge their curiosity.
The workplace is evolving! Cybersecurity companies are embracing and fostering forums like Women in Ping as a platform for females to meet and share experiences, to mentor and support.
Diversity drives creativity. Rather than trying to change things you can’t, the industry needs to work harder to make cybersecurity gender-neutral, nurture young girls early and equally. Only then will the gap in the workforce close.”