Working together to bridge the cybersecurity talent gap

We’re excited for this week’s Women in Cybersecurity Conference (WiCyS) on March 22-24 in Chicago!  The Conference is driven by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Women in Cyber Security initiative, started in 2013 by Dr. Ambareen Siraj to combat the gender diversity gap in the information security workforce and pipeline. WiCyS aims to advance women’s and especially female students’ interest in cyber as a viable and compelling career path. With recent estimates of 3.5 million global cybersecurity jobs unfilled by 2021, the world simply requires all of the talent we can marshal.

Cisco is proud to be a WiCyS Strategic Partner with many of our executives and team members actively engaged in the Conference and ongoing efforts to bridge the cybersecurity talent gap. On Thursday, March 22, Cisco senior security researcher Jennie Kam and Cisco software engineer Ellie Daw are partnering with Marcelle Lee of Looking Glass Cyber Solutions to provide a free workshop for WiCyS attendees on Practical Network Forensics. The Cisco team will host a Mentoring Social on Thursday evening for all attendees and will be on hand at the Career Fair during the conference to meet with attendees.

On Friday evening, March 23, Tony Jeffs, Director of Cisco Advanced Security Research and I will join the keynote panel with other industry leaders to discuss Men as Allies: Partnering to Advance Women in Cybersecurity. This session will offer valuable insights on ways men and women working in cyber can productively collaborate, and overcome communication and methodological differences that may be affecting more women’s entry into the field.  It should be great dinner conversation!

Additionally, a 1-day GenCyber camp is held in conjunction with each WiCyS conference, and this year several ladies from Cisco will introduce 100 Chicago-area high school students to capture the flag competitions. The Cisco team has created a trivia-style game to teach a variety of cybersecurity basics—including hardware, network, web applications, and cryptography.

Well beyond this Conference, we take the WiCyS goals to heart and put them into practice with our own Cisco Women in Cyber Security initiative. Our objective is to create, foster and develop a pipeline of women in cybersecurity within Cisco that grows not only the community but also contributes to the impact of women in cyber professions. With over 300 women members and growing, this dynamic group focuses on awareness, education and mentorship to help encourage more women to pursue cybersecurity careers.

Cisco firmly believes diversity is a mandate in the cyber imperative: diversity of ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, and ways of seeing the world. This diversity creates the opportunity for creative problem solving that the growing security threat requires.

Read stories from Cisco women and their male colleagues who have inspired and helped them along their journeys. Read their blogs at www.cisco.com/go/bridgethegap.



Michele D. Guel

Distinguished Engineer & Data Security and Privacy Strategist

Office of the CTO, Security Business Group