three women in tech working on laptops, gender diversity

Article provided by Kate Dadlani, Head of Security Advisory Services at Logicalis UKI

Cyber-attacks have increased since the start of the pandemic, making cybersecurity a priority for leaders across all industries.

IT Governance research discovered 1,243 security incidents in 2021, leading to an 11% increase compared to the previous year.

As Logicalis UKI’s Head of Security Advisory Services, I lead the development of cybersecurity services that support our customers in protecting themselves as much as possible against these attacks. Being a leader in tech, it is clear that a major issue in the cyber security space is that women represent only 11% of the cyber security workforce. This means one of the biggest problems facing the tech sector is that it simply isn’t utilising or appealing to half of the population. However, the shortage of tech talent is not a new problem. Over a decade ago, more than half of CEOs complained about the dearth of talent for digital roles. To make matters worse, a recent Korn Ferry study found that unless we get more high-tech workers by 2030, the security industry could miss out on over $160 billion in annual revenues.

Ultimately, the lack of diversity means less available talent to help keep up with mounting cyber threats, which has a knock-on effect on business continuity and profitability.

30 under 30: Becoming a leader in cybersecurity.

My fascination with computers started quite young. I remember when my mum bought me my first computer; I took it apart entirely just to put it back together like a jigsaw. Quite naturally, this interest led me to read forensic computing at De Montfort University. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at university and achieved a First Class-Degree. My final year dissertation – which was about iPhone backup files as a source of evidence – was even published internationally in Digital Forensics Magazine.

Despite the resistance I’ve experienced from older men in positions of power, I’m in my thirties and I’m already the Head of Security Advisory Services at a large company. I’ve featured as a ‘Rising Star’ in Cyber World Magazine and placed on CRN’s Women in Channel A-List – both are very well-respected titles. I’ve even been selected as a House of Lords representative! I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved, especially considering I’m still relatively early in my career.

All of these things started a foundation for the rest of my career. I’ve worked in a variety of roles, from starting as a Cyber Intelligence Analyst at Lockheed Martin in the aerospace and defence sector to a consultancy role at Ernst & Young. Then three years ago I started at Logicalis UK as Security and Compliance Manager, intending to bring cybersecurity to the forefront of both the organisations and employees’ minds. In less than a year and a half, I was promoted to CISO and now I’m Head of Security Advisory Services.

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The biggest obstacle girls will face is being a woman in man’s world. 

Everyone in the tech industry, no matter their gender, needs to acknowledge and educate themselves on the difficulties women face in such a male-dominated profession. The people working in security are usually older and male. As a woman, there’s always going to be the difficulty of actually being heard. Stepping into the C-suite sphere means having to communicate and battle with already established executives who can be quite hard to persuade. I’ve experienced a lot of resistance and reluctance coming from the top. A lot of it has stemmed from me being a young and accomplished woman, telling them how operations need to change.

I’ve come to the understanding that men and women work quite differently. To create a diverse workforce, more women in the cybersecurity space will lead to a variety of ideas being bounced around. This abundance of different views can prove to be very beneficial to day-to-day business. By incorporating more women into the tech space, we’ll have more women in powerful positions helping to innovate company cultures.

Just do it! Accepting your lack of confidence and fear of failure.

One of the biggest issues is that society has caused men to often be more outspoken than women. I’ve found that women, myself included, tend to be quite circumspect and self-doubting in comparison.

My advice for women struggling with imposter syndrome is to be transparent with themselves and their colleagues. It’s so easy to hide behind a false layer of confidence, but it stops you from reaching your full potential. Recognising both your strengths and weaknesses allows you to realise not only where you can improve but also what you’re good at and how you can utilise those skills better.

Seeing as most tech positions are held by men, it can be discouraging for women with a great interest in the industry. I want to encourage women that it’s incredibly possible to get to a senior level in the IT world. I’m also very wary that this gender imbalance in tech needs to be addressed. One of the few ways to get the ball rolling is by sharing my experiences and supporting other women who find themselves being the only female in a meeting.