Note to self: You ARE a woman in tech. You ARE part of the 11% of women in cybersecurity. You DO make an impact. You’re not alone – you have the #WeAreCisco fam behind you.
Don’t ever, EVER forget that.
For some time, I never considered myself a woman in tech because I did not have an engineering degree, and I didn’t even understand why it was such a big deal to be a woman in tech. In fact, I didn’t realize that there was whole community of women in tech until my manager nominated me to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration a couple years ago!
You must be wondering if I lived under a rock – how could I NOT realize these things? Well, I grew up with FIVE older brothers. Yep! Out of six kids, I was not only the only girl – but I was the youngest too. So, I was used to being the only girl, and even used to being tough so that I could hang with the big boys.
There have been many times in my career where I wondered if this was the right job for me. I am a people person – I don’t know how to program. Why is a non-technical emotional female in the role that’s generally dominated by technical engineering men? I’ve asked myself more than once, “Am I too emotional to succeed in this role?”
Since I joined Cisco, the number of women on my team in San Jose has TRIPLED! Being surrounded by women in the office every day made me realize that there were other women in a similar situation to me and I didn’t feel so alone anymore. We shared our common bond to build each other’s confidence. I know that Cisco has my back in whatever I want to pursue, and everyone is always so willing to jump in and help one another at any time – all you have to do is ask!
How so? I have a couple of examples for you!
- Example #1: I am often called to participate in regulatory compliance audits where my role is to speak on the Computer Security Incident Response Team’s (CSIRT) incident detection and response. Whenever I have a challenging call come up, my team is always available to support me. This even includes group chats where my teammates are literally typing responses to me in areas I’m not familiar with.
- Example #2: Despite our busy schedules, 1:1s with my manager are always prioritized. Most people would think that 1:1s are just for your manager to get status updates on what you are working on. However, my managers have always focused on what I needed to succeed and how THEY could help me. Prioritizing these meetings is helpful because I have the opportunity to ask when I do need help each week!
I am constantly asked what prompted my career in cybersecurity. Honest answer? Cisco got me into cybersecurity! During my internship, I was selected for the Information Security intern position in the CSIRT. I may have known nothing about cybersecurity at the time, but I knew that I had a passion for solving problems and tackling new challenges. I knew that the lack of my technical skills was my weakness and that problem-solving was my strength.
So, I used my strength to tackle my weakness!
My team’s way of teaching employees to learn and grow is by “throwing you into the deep end” then giving you all the support you need to learn how to swim – similar to Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” motto. This has worked out so wonderfully for me!
Are you a woman in tech, or just getting started with your career? Here’s my advice to you!
- Don’t wait until you meet 100% of the qualifications to apply for a job or sign up to take on a new project. If you’re interested and willing to learn, jump right in!
- Speak up! Talk to your manager about what your passions are, where you would like to grow, and also what you don’t like. It’s important for them to know your likes and dislikes so they can help to focus what you’re working on!
- Network with a purpose. It’s important to build strong relationships with people. Keep in mind that if someone trusts you, they’re likely to be willing to move mountains for you. Here at Cisco we have ERO’s (employee resource organizations) that bring co-workers together, for women in tech we have our Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Connected Women EROs!
I know it is sometimes difficult to realize that you ARE in fact a woman in tech. I’ve spoken to many women who don’t realize that they ARE, until they come to work at Cisco. From social media managers and marketers, to engineers and cybersecurity – we are ALL working towards a better future through technology!
Am I a Woman in Tech? Heck, YES, I am!
Want to join Cisco’s Women in Tech? We’re hiring!