When I started Terranova Security two decades ago, the number of women working in cyber security was low. When I attended industry events, you could count the number of female attendees on one hand. And, even though the cyber security space is more diverse than it’s ever been, women only make up less than a quarter (24%) of the industry’s total workforce.
However, for women considering a career in cyber security, it’s never been a better time to take the plunge. Canada will need to fill thousands of cyber security jobs in the upcoming years. Simultaneously, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects cyber security jobs to grow 31% through 2029, far above the country’s national average of 4%.
The opportunity is there. We need to ensure that women are given a fair shake at capitalizing on it.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I want to underscore the importance of recognizing and celebrating women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. Additionally, as a female CEO, I want to raise awareness around the essential work that still needs to be done to shrink the gender gap information technology (IT), cyber security, and other tech sectors.
As with most significant changes in business, transformation must come from the top. Companies in the cybersecurity and IT industries can easily set themselves apart by making diversity and the inclusion of female talent a priority. By working with human resources, these changes can be reflected in organizational metrics, such as the percentage of new women hires. To take advantage of this untapped potential, the organizational culture must encourage new ideas and listen to different voices and perspectives.
At Terranova Security, more than half of all employees are women and the talented executive team is also 70% female. As the company continues to grow, such as through the recent launch of our France operations, I firmly believe this diversity level within the organization is essential because it brings new ideas and creativity to the table, which in turn helps build products with the best possible customer experience in mind.
This blend of thinking and ideas is what leads to innovative projects and campaigns, such as the Gone Phishing Tournament, a first-of-its-kind phishing tournament that uses real-world simulations to establish true phishing clickthrough benchmarking statistics. Thanks to the input and collaborative work on such large-scale projects, we can leverage the diversity of our team to deliver the highest quality work that incorporates all perspectives and addresses a wide range of needs.
This dynamism also helps the team identify new ways to improve operations and makes our business practices more efficient over time. It’s a direct reflection of the can-do mindset at Terranova Security. It’s a “one team, one dream” mindset.
Exploring solutions to bridge the gap between men and women in tech
To all the women looking to make the leap into the world of cybersecurity or IT, remember that the opportunities are endless. Yes, there will be turbulence along the way, but don’t let that discourage you or allow any other perceived limitations hold you back. Also, always be open to discovering new ideas and interests, as well as updating your skill set with training or certifications that complement your education.
I also recommend working with a mentor. Whether it’s a woman or a man, a strong mentor can help guide and encourage you along your career path. It’s a fantastic way to expedite the learning process by being in contact with someone who has or is charting a career path that excites you. Don’t be afraid to seek those people out either – sometimes, an initial discussion can lead to a lasting mentor-mentee relationship.
Our mission as an organization to champion women in technology has no set deadline or goals. It’s about consistent effort and everyone can play a role, starting with leadership and managers. There is still much work to be done, but I am confident that the outlook for women seeking fulfilling careers in technology has never been better. We as a company – and an industry – need to ensure that the outlook continues to improve over time, and into the next decade.
Lise Lapointe is the Founder & CEO of Terranova Security.