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Women in Cybersecurity: Interviews with CSA’s Staff

Women in Cybersecurity: Interviews with CSA’s Staff

Blog Article Published: 04/24/2022

In cybersecurity, and the tech industry in general, men significantly outnumber women. However, more women are joining the field every day, helping to pave the way for others and proving that it benefits us all to hire a diverse workforce. Below, we’ve compiled four interviews with some of the women in technical roles at CSA to learn about their experiences and how they got into this industry.

Hillary Baron, Director of Research, Analytics

Hillary manages several CSA working groups, including the Blockchain/Distributed Ledger and Quantum-Safe Security Working Groups.

1. How did you get into the cloud and cybersecurity industry?

I got into the cybersecurity and cloud security industry by way of research. My early career was focused on research with some more minor elements of my role involving tech. However, I had a strong interest in the industry because I have many family members who work in tech. In the end, I blended the two interests and got into cloud security research.

2. What is it like being a woman in the cybersecurity industry?

When I tell people I work in cloud security, it tends to surprise and intrigue them. So I usually get a lot of follow-up questions about what I do, how I got into the field, or my opinion on a recent tech headline. It's incredibly empowering to be part of an industry that’s only going to be in higher demand with time and is so impactful to people’s everyday lives.

3. What advice would you give to other women who are hoping to progress in this industry?

It doesn't matter what type of background you have, there is a place for you in cybersecurity. Curiosity and a desire to learn are far more important in an industry that is constantly evolving. It's also important to find a mentor who is passionate about the industry to help guide you. There are so many people in the industry that are excited to have more women in cybersecurity and want to see you succeed.

Marina Bregkou, Senior Research Analyst

Marina manages several CSA working groups, including the Cloud Key Management and Serverless Working Groups.

1. How did you get into the cloud and cybersecurity industry?

I went to university to study informatics and telecommunications, seeing it as the science of the future. Also, this department was one of the best in the country at the time, which was my reason for putting it first on the list. After concluding my undergraduate studies, continuing to a masters program on information systems and getting a job in the industry was a one-way path, I guess. CSA put me on the cloud security path afterwards.

2. What is it like being a woman in the cybersecurity industry?

Depends on the place every time. For example, in our company it's nice. The environment is pleasant. In other places, like conference or exhibition events, it has been a little weird at times. People coming to the booth would go directly to my colleagues to ask technical questions, as they expected a male to be the one with the technical knowledge rather than the female.

At another exhibition event, we had an external collaborator, like a subject matter expert, who kept on creating a clique of business talk with all my male colleagues, even the ones that had no technical expertise, leaving me outside of it each time, like it was something that was unreachable for me. It made me feel unseen, like I wasn't there in those moments or could not have an opinion. He would just approach me to share gossip about his personal life or really superficial conversations that I wasn't at all interested in. I suppose this is these people's problem though, and to tell you the truth, I don't even remember this person's name.

3. What advice would you give to other women who are hoping to progress in this industry?

Continue learning every day, as this industry is always evolving and new things keep developing. Don't give into it when others may treat you as a secretary because in their mind this is a male industry and you're a woman. Keep respecting yourself and demand others to do the same.

Anna Schorr, Training Program Manager

Anna coordinates the creation and maintenance of CSA Training solutions, including project management, quality control, and expert group management.

1. How did you get into the cloud and cybersecurity industry?

By accident, I was interested in computer systems from a young age but did not know how to foster that. Then, I ended up going to school for my B.S. in biology, B.A. in integrated sciences, and my master’s in business. During the pandemic, my former employer was struck hard. Luckily for me, CSA was hiring at the time. I love applying my science, education, and business background in the work I do at CSA. I love even more learning about cybersecurity and the cloud, it's like being in school again!

2. What is it like being a woman in the cybersecurity industry?

It's a great opportunity and responsibility. Every time I meet a woman in cybersecurity, I have extreme respect for them for being a leader in a male-dominated field. Women in cybersecurity are paving the way for young girls, so girls who have an interest in computer technologies, as I did, have other women to look up to.

3. What advice would you give to other women who are hoping to progress in this industry?

If this is what you are passionate about, go for it, and don’t let anyone, including yourself, stop you! I suggest getting involved in the industry by joining volunteer groups and initiatives. CSA has dozens of research working groups that are open to the general public. These working groups are a great way to get involved and network. Build a community.

Hannah Rock, Training Content Development Manager

Hannah oversees the development and maintenance of CSA Training solution offerings.

1. How did you get into the cloud and cybersecurity industry?

I have been interested in computers and technology since about middle school and taught myself how to code. While pursuing my bachelor's degree in computer science, I gravitated towards security and cryptography. As I was finishing my degree, I was being interviewed for a campus scholarship promo and one of the facilitators knew of an internship at CSA. I started out as a support intern and quickly found myself in large roles.

2. What is it like being a woman in the cybersecurity industry?

Rewarding, because you often bring a different perspective than other male colleagues. Everyone brings something unique to the table, but in any field where one group is more represented than others, adding in perspectives of less represented groups can broaden the industry’s view, help solve difficult problems, and reach more customers.

3. What advice would you give to other women who are hoping to progress in this industry?

In general, find something you love about what you're doing because progressing in something you don't love won't be fulfilling. More industry-specific, I would say to find the role(s) that interest you and don't let anyone tell you that you don't belong. I often see many women in this industry, myself included, who struggle with imposter syndrome, but having positive self-talk to counter that is incredibly helpful.

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