The “2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity,” conducted by Frost & Sullivan and ISC2, found that the cybersecurity industry is composed of only 11 percent women globally and 14 percent in North America. That’s shockingly low. But, just talking about these metrics isn’t enough. We need to do something about this massive gap. At BlackHat this year, the conversation about why these numbers are so low got much louder. And it’s about time!
A lot of companies are starting to talk about the massive gender gap in security, but what are we actually doing about it?
I’m proud to say that at Citrix, I don’t feel like as much of the minority as I might at other companies. Operating on the values of integrity, respect, and courage, Citrix considers diversity and inclusion an integral part of the organization. I work for the Global Security Organization (GSO) at Citrix, and we’re doing particularly well compared to the rest of the industry. The GSO at Citrix is climbing above the industry norm; roughly 18 percent of our organization is female. In fact, both security leadership and manager positions for women at Citrix are higher than the industry average. We still have some distance to go, but it’s a start and we’re taking steps to work toward change.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY analyzed results from 21,980 global, publicly traded companies, in 91 countries, from various industries and sectors and found that having at least 30 percent of women in leadership positions — or in the C-suite — adds six percent to net profit margin.
Citrix is working to positively develop women in their cybersecurity professions. I gravitated towards security program management early in my career here. Our Chief Security Officer recognized a skillset that was needed in his organization and he offered me an opportunity to move into a leadership position on his team in 2015. Since that door was opened, Citrix GSO has continued to support my career advancement and growth in the profession. Since I joined the team, we have added several women to our group in numerous capacities and areas of expertise. It is clear the leadership at Citrix and specifically in the GSO are walking the walk when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
The research shows groups are collectively more intelligent than individuals on a range of simple to complex tasks. Additionally, the research found that a group’s collective intelligence tends to increase as the percentage of women in the group increases. — Colonel Ellen L. Haring, U.S. Army
In 2013, Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) partnered to examine group or collective intelligence to understand how to optimize team performance. “The research shows groups are collectively more intelligent than individuals on a range of simple to complex tasks. Additionally, the research found that a group’s collective intelligence tends to increase as the percentage of women in the group increases.” — Colonel Ellen L. Haring, U.S. Army
As a woman leading a cybersecurity team that is made up entirely of women within the GSO, I feel that the perspective we bring to problem solving and decision making are keys to the success of our overall security program. I am proud to work with female cybersecurity experts that are qualified not just to work in the field, but to train others. We are offering our first-ever internal security certification boot camp at the end of October, led by two of the talented women on the Citrix Cybersecurity team.
How we can further increase our numbers
To build strong teams of strong women, you first need to spark the interest of girls. A recent Huffington post article shared that Girl Scouts will soon have the ability to earn badges in Cybersecurity! This is an exciting way to pique girls’ interest in the profession at a young age. Cybersecurity and tech are an integral part of the next generation’s lives — they are digital natives. Making girls feel empowered to be a part of — and to lead — this next generation of tech natives, Citrix has partnered with Girls Who Code, an organization that is dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. We also build talent through participating in the Citrix University Recruiting and Intern Program. Our most recent recruit is a female graduate who is providing us with a fresh perspective on communicating security awareness within our organization.
Women don’t make up a large percentage of the cybersecurity industry, but at Citrix, we’re working hard to change that. Onward!