The past few weeks I have been preparing to present at a Cybersecurity conference on the topic of cybersecurity education. As I put together my presentation I am not worried if I am smart enough to present to over 200 attendees, I worry if an audience, full of my male counterparts, will care about a woman speaking on the issues at hand. I did not get into cybersecurity by following the typical career path of computer science major, I once had to Google what the “reference monitor” was in a computer system and I most definitely don’t write software code! I attempted for a short time to be a computer science major, but no one could put into terms for me how and why code works, and what coding can do to make the world a better place. I switched majors, graduated with a B.A. Psychology and couldn’t find a job! Luckily for me I had spent almost eight years in the military and had some great personal connections and landed a job in “Information Assurance” at the time.
Fast forward 11 years later and here I am developing cybersecurity strategies for Fortune 500 companies! I worked really hard, read a lot and studied for certifications to teach myself enough technical skills to be successful, all the while balancing out my desire to make the World a better place. I found myself smack dab in the middle of the most exciting industries by accident! Throughout my years in cybersecurity, I have been most fortunate to have bosses and mentors who pushed me outside of my comfort zone in order for me to grow professionally and personally.
Now, it’s my time to give back! As the Director of the School of Cyber Security (SCS) (www.schoolofcybersecurity.com) I read lots of research on the gloom and doom of the cybersecurity market. 200,0000 open positions according to Forbes, by 2020 an estimated deficit of 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals, and women account for 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, yet they make up just 10 percent of information security professionals, according to a new study from ISC2. Like any good female who feels empowered to make a difference, I decided to start Cyber Warrior Princess, a non-profit that provides cybersecurity education and training to girls and women to help fill the available cybersecurity positions with bright, intelligence and creative minds who strive to make a difference in the World! Luckily I was able to convince a few co-workers, industry experts and friends to give up some of their free-time in order to help me achieve my goal of starting a free cybersecurity program to empower the current generation of female employees and the future!