Many women in IT are used to being the only woman in the room. Sami Jenkins, the COO & Co-Founder of global cybersecurity firm ThreatLocker, shares her insight on how women can foster a sense of belonging in the tech world.

When ThreatLocker was founded in 2017, I had to get used to being the only woman present in many situations.

The tech world is male-dominated: Many women never consider it as a career path, and many more leave before they reach leadership roles. But being the only female was, for me, never discouraging; it was actually motivating. I knew I had a unique perspective to bring to the table.

Perceptions of what is or isn’t a woman’s career

Gender stereotypes have played a part in shaping the mindset of the youth, where in education, males are expected to pursue STEM majors more than females. Socialisation and cultural preferences have almost branded specific interests as “feminine” or “lady-like” while the hard skills associated with fields like technology are viewed as “masculine”.

Although there have been more initiatives throughout the industry for gender equitable training practices, the need for more female presence still boils down to the implications of entering a male-dominated industry.

Challenges entering a male-dominated industry

When it comes to IT, there is a lack of female leadership, which doesn’t allow for more mentors or guidance within the field. This makes it harder for women to envision themselves in specific roles.

IT has a huge retention problem

According to a study by DataProt, in 2022, women were seen to leave the IT industry at a 45% higher rate than their male counterparts. The IT industry doesn’t just need more women, but people in general. It is a rapidly growing industry with a high demand for qualified talent. This provides an avenue for employers to build diverse teams to further cultivate their buildings. Workplace culture has a huge role to play.

When it comes to devices or software applications, the users are generally both men and women. This means that having a unique perspective of a trendy youth, mother, or even a career changer can help shape a product’s outcome and create it with that target group in mind. This is a unique perspective that employers will value as it incorporates the inclusion of every user.

The trick is that there is no trick. Know your stuff, deliver on goals and objectives, and, most importantly, be a team player. Being a team player will not only allow you to bring value to your team members but assist your organisation in attaining its goals.

As a beginner, you will make mistakes. However, these mistakes will help you in the future.

Don’t let the fact that Tech is a male-dominated industry dim your light or discourage you from speaking out. Whether you’re a woman or man, your success in the industry will always come down to the following: Are you good at your job? Is your team confident that you will get the job done on time? And do you understand what your team needs from you and how they work? Knowing when to let others thrive and when to intercept is also key to leading an extraordinary team.

You should always be a catalyst for change, always increase your knowledge and bring your team along for the ride.

Often, the toughest part is just getting started…

Fast-tracking your career – without a degree

Whether it be a career in cybersecurity, AI, programming, cloud computing, or database management, you have the power to fast-track your career in tech with a few simple steps.

Some of the greatest minds in technology did not follow the traditional route of going to university. Remember, a degree is not the only path to a successful IT career. With hard work, dedication, and a focus on developing your skills and experience, you can achieve your goals as an IT professional.

First and foremost, it’s important to be curious. If you want to be successful as an IT professional, focus on the how rather than the why. Consider professional certifications such as CompTIA ITF+ and A+, Cisco CCNA, or Microsoft fundamentals, which can validate your skills and knowledge to potential employers. Also, consider other tech-adjacent certifications like the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) for more project-oriented roles. If you want to be a successful business owner, you need to focus on both the how and the why.

When it comes to technical skills, it’s all about execution. Employers want to know that you know more than theory. Practical experience through an internship or part-time job is crucial for building your IT career. You can also get much-needed experience by volunteering, participating in open-source projects, or freelancing. These opportunities will make you stand out from other applicants with the same skills or certifications and demonstrate that you can apply yourself in a business environment.

The importance of building a great network

Networking can help bring forward great opportunities you might have yet to be privy to from traditional channels. It can also be an excellent tool to find mentors giving career advice and learning about trends in the field of your choosing. It would help if you also attend industry events, participate in online forums, and build relationships with IT professionals.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who currently work in the roles you’re interested in. Ask them your questions, discuss what a day-in-the-life looks like, and get book or course recommendations for that specific interest. Create a portfolio that showcases your capabilities and helps employers understand your previous experience, and include projects you have worked on, be it contributions to open-source projects or any other relevant experience.

Succeeding in tech 

As a society, we need to better encourage women to enter IT and similar fields. However, individuals need to step up to the plate and be the kind of person who excels in the tech industry despite their gender.

My role at ThreatLocker allows me to have a hand in selecting every staff member and also contribute to their professional and personal development. We currently have over 250 employees worldwide, and everyone within that workforce has the full backing of a multi-gendered leadership team.

At the end of the day, don’t be a great “woman leader” – but a great leader. To be successful at tech, do tech, and do it as good as anyone else. By positioning yourself as a woman in tech, you define yourself in a different league.

Most employers and buyers now just want good service and do not care about whether you are a man or a woman.


About Sami Jenkins

Sami Jenkins is the COO and Co-Founder of ThreatLocker, a global cybersecurity firm providing Zero Trust endpoint security. With almost two decades of experience as an IT professional, Sami specialises in enhancing cybersecurity measures for businesses.

Her role at ThreatLocker has resulted in its rapid expansion by tripling its workforce in a year, driving profitable revenue growth by 300% in the past year, and providing overall strategic direction. Sami is passionate about cybersecurity and aspires to protect all businesses from ransomware and other cyberattacks through the implementation of a Zero Trust architecture.

Sami enjoys figure skating with her husband and traveling with her three children when not at the office.

About ThreatLocker

ThreatLocker® is a leader in endpoint protection technologies, providing enterprise-level cybersecurity tools to improve the security of servers and endpoints. The ThreatLocker platform with Application Allowlisting, Ringfencing™, Storage Control, Elevation Control, Endpoint Network Control, Configuration Management and Operational Alert solutions are leading the cybersecurity market toward a more secure approach of blocking the exploits of application vulnerbilities.