Cybersecurity is a growing field with an increasing demand for professionals in the field. In fact, in 2017, Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that there will 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021. Yet still, with such great need and opportunity, a study in the same year found that women only make up 11% of the total cybersecurity workforce.
It is clear that the entire IT industry needs more women, and cybersecurity especially is proving to have an even larger gap. What is stopping this demographic from entering the field? How did those already successful in it get there and what kind of advice do they give? This infographic by Varonis has the answers and more interesting statistics on the topic.
A recent study of Canadian workers by the recruitment agency Hays Canada has revealed that half of the working professional population are unhappy in their current jobs. And unhappiness among female workers appears to be at an all-time high — 54 percent of Canadian women fantasize about quitting their jobs with many claiming they want more money, while others put the blame on a bad culture fit.
For many Canadian women, happiness at work didn’t happen until they made a career change. Many chose to follow a private passion rather than fight their way along a difficult and frustrating career path to advancement in companies that showed little interest in cultivating and promoting in-house talent. The fact that Canadian women are starting businesses at a higher rate than women in any other G20 country is a positive and encouraging indication that many are seeking personal happiness through entrepreneurship.
Opportunity and pay
Many have gone out on their own having grown tired of too few opportunities to take advantage of their education and experience. Canada’s gender pay gap is one of the largest among industrialized countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Pay inequity has led many Canadian women to seek better options in other fields, including finance, construction and civil engineering, and take advantage of hot new job markets, such as computer and information systems, medicine and human resources.
A new career
One of the most positive life changes you can make is deciding to turn a passion into a career and start enjoying the prospect of going to work every day. Former Toronto advertising exec Jane Canapini decided to start a travel blog after a memorable hiking trip to Greece and Italy. Andrea Raco left the insurance business to become a personal success coach. If that sounds appealing, decide on what happiness and success mean to you. It could lead to anything from starting a dog-walking service to designing commercial websites or writing online marketing content for a broad range of clients.
Emphasize personal strengths
Becoming an entrepreneur can mean embracing radical change, like working from home or working a second job while getting a new business idea off the ground. Phoebe Fung of Calgary gave up a career in the oil and gas industry to pursue her passion for wine to open Calgary’s first wine bar. Despite struggling to find financing, within a decade Fung’s Vin Room had opened three locations in the Western Canadian city. The appeal of doing what she loves was strong enough that Fung was willing to forego a salary in the first two years according to the details of the financing deal she was able to secure.
Refreshing your resume
For anyone wanting to sell their strengths and experience to a prospective employer or seek funding for a new venture, an updated, well-written and attention-grabbing cover letter and resume are essential. Remember that a good resume should strike a balance between brevity/concision and compelling information, while a solid cover letter will be written toward the industry to which you’re applying.
If your resume needs a good overhaul, check out online resume templates for appealing designs/layouts and color combinations. A potential employer in a different industry will want to see evidence of initiative, creative thinking and resourcefulness; in other words, evidence that you would make a good addition despite having come from a different field.
Today, women in Canada are heading financial technology companies, philanthropic organizations, fashion companies and boutique bakeries, while organizations like Women in Communications and Technology seek to encourage greater female participation in the digital industry. An increasingly tech-savvy and agile workforce is helping create new – and, in some cases, unforeseen – opportunities.
Workplace diversity in the technology industry continues to be a hot and critical topic, and reasonably so. Studies have proven time and again that a diverse team can out-perform less diverse groups, with their varied experiences and different ways of thinking which just scratch the surface of reasons.
Still, we continue to see research and articles about all industries failing in minimizing the gap for women. In fact, according to the 2018 Women in the Workplace report recently released by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, not a whole lot of progress has been made in recent years. The Muse summarized these seven facts directly from that report:
Men Hold 62% of Manager Positions to Women’s 38% (and it Gets Worse Higher Up)
Women Are Less Likely to Have Access to Senior Leaders
Women Are Twice as Likely to Be Mistaken for Much More Junior Employees and More Likely to Deal with Discrimination
Women Are Far More Likely to Be “Onlys” and Suffer More for it When They Are
35% of Women in Full-Time Corporate Sector Jobs Have Experienced Sexual Harassment
Women Negotiate for Raises and Promotions as Often as Men Do
Women Are More Likely to See Gender as an Obstacle to Advancement
We encourage you to read the complete report for more details, but these simple one-liners make it clear — there is still more work to do.
One person putting in significant work to dismantle barriers to equality is Melinda Gates. She wrote an inspiring article for Fast Company about Pivotal Ventures, an organization she started that studies gender gaps in industries and looks for ways to invest for catalytic impact.
As Gates points out, venture capitalists have significant pull in who will be the tech leaders of tomorrow. Shockingly, she learned that they have a rather narrow idea of who those innovators should be, with women founders receiving only 2% of VC dollars! Her solution: have more women doing the funding.
Pivotal Ventures is not meant to be philanthropical and instead, Gates says she is putting her money where her mouth is and invests in funds led by women and people of colour. Rather than a grant or hand-out, she is confident in their potential and expects strong returns.
Overcoming the Barriers on an Individual Level
As great as it is to see somebody like Melinda Gates investing in a few women entrepreneurs, it’s not helpful if you’re battling in technology and/or leadership positions today. For some inspiration, have a look at this other article from Fast Company. It highlights different stories of now successful female executives who overcame various forms of discrimination. Every time they were underestimated, they became more motivated. For example:
Lana Crystal and Lindsey Andrews were referred to as “Silly little girls” when they cofounded Minibar Delivery. It has since raised $6.8 million and expanded into 37 markets.
Becky Clements was shut out of meetings with talent at a production company after doing all the leg work to make them happen. Today, she is president of Tomorrow Studios and produces shows for TNT and Netflix.
It might be obvious that the sources referenced in this post are US-based, but it’s not to say these issues are not relevant in Canada, albeit some organizations and regions may be better than others. Do you feel your current environment has a positive grip on diversity?
You hear the name Silicon Valley and what do you think? The pinnacle of software, the place where the most gifted technological minds work, the mecca of IT. And how many executive positions by companies based at IT’s mecca are held by women? 11%.
Few industries have such a gap in gender representation as IT, but talent has nothing to do with it. There are millions of gifted women in the industry and countless inspirational individuals among them.
I’ve picked just 6 of the many talented ladies who deserve to be celebrated for their IT gifts. Read on and take inspiration from them.
How many of the conferences you attended last year, gigs you’ve enjoyed recently, and events that you’ve organized used Eventbrite? The event management platform is simple, enormously popular, and wildly successful. It also wouldn’t exist without Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Julia Hartz.
Having studied communication and broadcast journalism at Malibu, California’s Pepperdine University, Julia founded the company with her husband, Kevin Hartz, in 2006. The company was the first of its type in the US.
With her trailblazing style, Julia Hartz’s success has seen her smash down barriers held in place by tech’s “men’s club” and earn her place among the most successful IT professionals in the world. We salute you, Julia.
You might know Karlie Kloss as the face Swarovski, or one of the many other high-level companies she models for. While Kloss is one of the top 300 models of the noughties, she’s also a passionate coder.
Kode With Klossy hosts summer coding camps for girls aged 13-18, where Kloss and her team help build the next generation of female IT stars. For your commitment to breaking down barriers, we celebrate you, Karlie.
Sheila Flavell has been in the IT industry for 3 decades, taking in roles at Lloyds Abbey, Glen Dudley, and FDM, where she is Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Board Director. She’s also won a bucketful of awards acknowledging her influence in the IT world.
Among these are:
Woman of the Year – Computing Women in IT Excellence Awards
Lifetime Achievement Award – Scotland Women in Technology Awards
Business Leader of the Year – Cisco Everywoman in Technology Awards
But Sheila’s not just an award winner, she’s an opportunity giver. She’s campaigned tirelessly to help more women get into the IT industry, acting as mentor for many gifted young ladies in the tech industry. Hats off to you, Sheila.
Another female star of the IT world whose name might not be as recognizable as it should be is Lynsey Thornton, VP, of User Experience at the Canadian ecommerce powerhouse, Shopify.
A tech head throughout the course of the higher education, Lynsey left her home in the British Isles to become one of Canada’s female IT stars, graduating from being Shopify’s UX Research Lead to running the UX show.
Like Karlie Kloss, Lynsey uses her skills to help the next-gen of female coding stars, volunteering as a Facilitator at Code For Kids.
However, it’s her work helping female entrepreneurs of tomorrow take the gender pay gap into their own hands, by creating their own businesses using their easy store builder, for which we celebrate her. Excellent work, Lynsey.
They’re by far the biggest social media platform on the planet and a global institution that eat away billions of hours of the world’s time, but Facebook wouldn’t be where they are today without the brilliance of its Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg.
After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1995, achieving an MBA with highest distinction, Sheryl went on to work for McKinsey & Company, Larry Summers, and Google. In 2007 she met Mark Zuckerberg at a party and a year later she became Facebook’s COO.
Sheryl was tasked with making Facebook profitable and boy has she succeeded; the company is firmly entrenched in the Fortune 500, and had a revenue of US$40.653 billion in 2017. Sheryl, you know what it means to star in the IT world.
From Facebook to Google and YouTube, and from COO to CEO, we give you Susan Wojcicki. Like Sheryl Sandberg, Susan studied at Harvard University, turning her back on a career in academia in favor of lighting a fire under the world of online streaming.
It was Susan’s garage where Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up office in 1998; her partnership with the creators of the world’s largest search engine became official in 1999, when she became the company’s first marketing manager.
While working with Page and Brin, Susan pushed Google Video service against upstart streaming service YouTube. Rather than compete with YouTube, Susan recommended that Google buyout the company. That acquisition came in 2006 and today Susan is CEO of YouTube. Who knows where you would stream your videos from without Susan? Not us.
No industry should be a boys club, or a girls gang for that matter. The only factors that should determine where you work and what you do are talent, desire, dedication, and drive – gender should never be a factor. For all of their varied skills of our 6 awesome women in IT, it’s those 4 qualities for which we truly celebrate them.
We know that you have those 4 qualities too. So what are you waiting for? Take inspiration from our 6 stars and blaze your own trail in the world of IT.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how women can forge a career in the online world by using their gift for crafting brilliant content.
There is no argument that female independent contractors working in technology face more challenges than their male counterparts. From the loneliness of being a minority to the proven pay gaps, IT is not an easy industry for women. There are many theories as to why this could be, none of which we’ll discuss in today’s post. Instead, we’re going to help minimize one challenge by sharing some advice to help female IT leaders improve their communication.
This helpful video we found from Forbes points out body language mistakes that some women make. Specifically, it provides four tips to help a female IT contractor appear more credible, powerful and confident, either when meeting with a recruiter, discussing business with a client, or leading a team through a project.
Search the Talent Development Centre
Get a summary of the newest posts every week. (Don't worry, we won't SPAM you!)