More Women Should Engage In Cyber Security Jobs

History is filled with women who have great achievements in computer science and technology, which is one reason why it’s hard to understand why only 20% of the cyber security industry is female.

Experts and researchers shared their inspiring experience and successes in women’s participation in cyber security and looked at future challenges during a NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme workshop in Qatar at the end of October 2019.

The event, hosted by the KINDI Center for Computing Research of Qatar University, was the first SPS activity hosted in the country.

Encouraging engagement and building networks
This SPS Advanced Research Workshop gathered experts from the region and beyond to discuss how women could be encouraged to participate in the cyber workforce. To have better chances of success in protecting networks against cyberattacks, taking into consideration a variety of perspectives is crucial. The experience of women can enrich and challenge the understanding of the topic.

“The cyber security field and its workforce needs are expected to expand. Encouraging women is not only a matter of equality, but also of opportunity,” said Dr Deniz Beten, Senior NATO SPS and Partnership Cooperation Advisor. 

All speakers at the event, co-organised by France and Qatar, were women. They addressed the topic not only through the lens of the private sector, academia and government, but also from the perspective of cyber engineers, analysts, policy makers and diplomats. Participants also took the opportunity to network and broaden their awareness of the role of women in this field. For instance, existing networks aiming to connect, mentor and support women cyber professionals in the Middle East region were presented to an engaged audience by Fatma Fuad, a senior systems engineer from Kuwait.

Sharing expertise and success stories
Speakers from France, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Qatar, Switzerland and Turkey shared their experiences on how to ensure security and stability of cyberspace. They discussed future challenges in cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure, artificial intelligence and quantum computing on a technical and operational level. Participants also learned from outstanding role models, such as Dr Hessa Al Jaber, first-ever Minister of Information and Communications Technology of Qatar. “NATO can showcase best practices in this field, which can have an impact on greater inclusivity and equality in cyber security,” said Dr Noora Fetais, Director of the KINDI Center. 

Moving forward
Tech savvy students across the UK have flocked to GCHQ sessions to inspire future cyber security experts, but recently the drive is particularly focused on inspiring girls to join the talent pipeline. The British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has recentky announced a 300 per cent growth in young people taking part in their CyberFirst courses since launching in 2016.

The number of courses offered has increased to meet the rising demands of a future generation engaging with the cyber security profession.

The broad CyberFirst programme offers a range of courses, competitions and student bursaries for 11-to-17 year olds.
The organisation has been appealing to girls aged 12 and 13 in Year 8, S2 or Year 9 (Northern Ireland) to take part in an exciting competition specifically for young women, because just 11 per cent of the global cyber workforce is female.

As a follow-up, participants recommended to expand the network of women cyber experts spanning NATO and partner nations, and to continue motivating and attracting young talent.

 

NCSC:          NATO:       CyberSecurity Challeng UK:


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