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WSC Panel Event Discusses Achieving Success as a Woman in Cybersecurity

Monday, July 29, 2013  
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McLean, VA – July 29, 2013.

It is no secret that significantly fewer women than men work in cybersecurity. According to the National Center of Women and Information Technology, the IT field alone is in high demand with low supply. There is an even higher demand for professionals in information security. Though women hold 56% of all professional jobs in the U.S. workforce, only 25% hold jobs in IT. That means that fewer than 1 in 4 working in the IT security field are women. However, last week it seemed as if women are starting to catch up.

On July 16, 2013 a McLean, VA-based group, Women's Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC), held a panel discussion about what it is like to work in the male-dominated field. Achieving Success as a Woman in Cybersecurity was moderated by Lisa Foreman, founder and CEO of WSC, and comprised a distinguished group of seven women from the public, private and non-profit sectors who hold an array of positions, including president & CEO, senior technical
engineer, and technical recruiter. The audience of more than 75 women, in attendance and participating remotely through video conferencing, had backgrounds ranging from 20 years of experience in IT and cybersecurity to hopefuls looking to get a toe in the door.

The all-volunteer panel included Ann Barron-DiCamillo, Director at U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT); Andrea Suzara Bennett, President of Cloudburst Security; Lisa Goldman, Senior Technical Recruiter, Federal Services Division at URS Corp.; Terry Gudaitis, Ph.D., Owner of Mindstar Security & Profiling, LLC and former CIA behavioral profiler; Suzanne Hall, Vice President of Information Technology at the American Red Cross; Margaret Leary, Ph.D., Co-Principle Investigator at the CyberWatch Center; and
Tammy Torbert, Information Security Engineer at HP Arcsight.

The panel discussed their varied educational backgrounds and professional experiences, and answered questions such as, What's more important, degrees or certifications, and which should I get first? How technical do I need to be? What do recruiters want to see on resumes? How do I ‘deal’ with male dominated work environments? What do I need to know to start my own cybersecurity consulting business?

Pearls of wisdom that came from the panel included: Take time for yourself every day; you don’t have time not to invest in yourself; and don’t be shy to take on a challenge. Panel and audience alike seemed to agree with Tammy Torbert, who said, “Don’t worry if you didn’t follow a traditional path.” While Ms. Tobert followed what might be considered a more traditional path to information security—she holds an engineering degree—others
come from fields not typically associated with IT, such as Terry Gudaitis, who has a doctorate in psychology, and Suzanne Hall, who has a B.S. in accounting and is a certified public accountant.

Ann Barron-DiCamillo from US-CERT, the federal agency that is tasked with improving the nation's cybersecurity posture, said, “The evening was fantastic. The panel and the audience consisted of diverse and successful women in cybersecurity and everyone brought expertise to the discussion. This was a helpful dialog that benefitted all participants as we each continue our path in the cybersecurity field.“

Attendees were equally enthusiastic. Kristin Atchley said, “The panel discussion was a wonderful experience. The persistent advice about having confidence, maintaining presence, finding your niche, recognizing the requirements for the job you’re looking for in the male-dominated Information Assurance (IA) field was encouraging and sound advice. The resounding theme of obtaining a certification and pursuing education really hit home for me. I am a seasoned IA professional but am currently not certified, but taking my exam in
August—thanks to WSC. I work mainly on customer site, but due to budgetary cuts my position is ending shortly. I attended the event because I needed the encouragement to further my career. WSC has helped me get on the networking and certification bandwagon by offering these types of free events and study classes.”

Information Security Analyst, Garima Pant-Joshi, who works at a healthcare company said, “The panel discussion was an excellent platform for women starting out a career or currently in the field of cybersecurity. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear the views of some pretty accomplished women in the cybersecurity field. They provided some great suggestions and insight to survive the competition and succeed in the industry. I'm thankful to Lisa Foreman for inviting the ladies to participate in the discussion. She was great as a moderator
and the event exceeded my expectations. Being a part of the women's cybersecurity meetings and workshops has provided me with great opportunities to learn and grown in the field. I look forward to attending more events.”

Ms. Foreman said she was very pleased with the turnout of the event and, “This panel discussion addressed the many questions we regularly get about maneuvering in this field.” She hopes to continue to expand WSC and its offerings, and that more women join in order to take advantage of the great resources provide here. About WSC, Suzanne Hall of the American Red Cross said, “It’s great to know that we have such a good local resource that we can rely on and remind us that we’re not alone. And, it’s a great way to connect.”

Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC) is Northern Virginia-based organization passionate about helping and empowering women to succeed in the cybersecurity field. Their mission is to advance women in cybersecurity by providing programs and partnerships that promote networking, education, mentoring, resource-sharing, and career opportunities.

WSC holds many free or low-cost events and technical training sessions. Their next event is a 14-week nocharge Security+ training class beginning on July 23, 2013. Security+ is an introductory level security certification offered by CompTIA. While the group is not in any way affiliated with CompTIA, they will be studying the Security + material to assist participants in self-study to prepare to pass the certification test offered by CompTIA.
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