By Tina Meeker, Sr. Director of Information Security, Sleep Number; Vice President – Minnesota WiCyS Affiliate
July 13, 2020
As an industry, we are all acutely aware of how important it is to identify, foster and promote new and existing talent (from ALL backgrounds) in the ever-evolving cybersecurity field. Our industry is much too monolithic today which results in open unfilled roles, lack of creative solutions to fighting hackers and threats, and inability to make meaningful strides in connecting with diverse workforces to advance security culture within organizations.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, at the end of 2019, it was estimated that 20% of industry jobs were held by women. This is actually a sizable improvement from 2011 (coincidentally the year of the very first Cyber Security Summit), when it was only 11%. Additionally, 32% of cybersecurity professionals of color report that they have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace, according to a study conducted by (ISC)², the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP), and the Center for Cyber Safety and Education.
More and more, we are seeing that diverse teams ARE a competitive edge for organizations — it is good business! We need all perspectives to counter the dynamic and evolving threat landscape. There is a place for EVERYONE in this mission and the guideposts are being built.
2019 Marked a Turning Point for Women in Cybersecurity in Minnesota
Last fall, at the Cyber Security Summit in Minneapolis, I had the pleasure to emcee our first ever Women in Cyber event. The discussions and outcomes far exceeded our expectations.
Ultimately, an impressive and diverse number of industry leaders gathered for our energetic morning session to network and hear from esteemed panelists. We followed this program with a mid-day luncheon the next day featuring a highly regarded Minnesota State Legislator. This event was a catalyst in helping us focus our energies and organize towards a common goal.
The world was much different then: a worldwide pandemic and justifiable calls for social change have seismically shifted the terrain for all of us.
Moving Forward and Embracing Our Diversity
This year, we intend to adapt to this new terrain with confidence while humbly navigating ambiguity, learning from each other and embracing change. In addition to riding the momentum of last year’s event, this year’s Women in Cyber event will expand topics to include how we are leading, connecting and influencing in this seemingly “here-to-stay” new way of working. As industry leaders, we are leading the charge by evolving from diversity/inclusiveness initiatives to actively embracing and practicing anti-racism throughout our workplaces.
Another big change you will see this year is the recently launched Minnesota Chapter of WiCyS (Women in CyberSecurity) who will be hosting this year’s event at the Summit!
The Cyber Security Summit WiCyS Diversity & Inclusion in the Cyber Workforce Luncheon, will capstone the women’s event this year on Monday, Oct 26, which will also include, two morning technical sessions at no additional cost.
Even though there is some progress, there is still much work to do. We hope you will join us at the Cyber Security Summit (sign up soon for an early bird discount!) and stay tuned as the agenda finalizes. And don’t forget to sign up for our WiCyS-Minnesota newsletter at www.wicysmn.org. See you there!
Tina Meeker is a highly accomplished Senior Information Security & Compliance Executive and Entrepreneur with more than 15 years of success in the retail, banking, technology, and medical device industries. She currently serves as Sr. Director of Information Security at Sleep Number Corporation and has held executive cyber security leadership positions at Best Buy, Inc., Shutterfly, Inc. and Target Corporation… full bio