Women in cyber: Interview with Sara Newman

According to Cyber Security Ventures, women will represent more than 20% of the global cyber security workforce by the end of 2019. They also predicted that 3.5 million cyber security jobs will go unfilled worldwide by 2021. Sara Newman, practice lead and co-founder of Securys Limited shares her insight on being a woman with 20 years’ experience in the tech sector.

What interested you to a career in cyber security?

A career that includes Cyber isn’t something I sought out.  It’s something I’ve fallen into and learnt about and picked up skills along the way, resulting in me getting my CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) last year.  Information and Cyber Security have never been more important. People and businesses are more reliant on technology than ever and we all have to be aware of the of the threats that surround us in this ever-changing technical landscape. What’s important to me is helping people, making things better, less risky and more fun and my role at Securys allows me to do this across multiple sectors and countries.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Meeting interesting new people and learning about lots of different types of businesses.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?

Keeping up to date with changes in the industry so that the advice and support we provide is truly practical.  Occasionally I come up against clients who make assumptions about my skills based on my gender.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be up to 3.5 million job openings by 2021. Meanwhile, women make up only 20% of the cybersecurity workforce. Do you feel efforts to improve female representation in cyber security are starting to build momentum?

Slowly, very very slowly.  I’ve been working in technology for 20 years and we are starting to see real strides to encourage more women in to the sector. There is much more press about it, far more groups and support.  I am hoping that STEM at school level is getting real traction.

What advice would you give to women who may think cyber security (and tech in general) is a more masculine profession and therefore not a suitable career path or career change?

Yes, it is still a male dominated industry but that shouldn’t put you off, that should inspire you to be part of the change to make this a more balanced sector.  It’s a fast-moving industry that allows you to make a real difference to how a business operates and how information is protected.  I am lucky to work with people who support and challenge me and allow me to make best use of all of my skills.  There are so many roles in Cyber and technology in general that it’s no longer just about configuring servers or writing code, of course if that’s your thing that’s great but talk to women in technology and play to your strengths, just like you would if you were considering a role in any other sector!

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