I write to make people laugh, to keep my late father’s memory alive, and to spread awareness of causes about which I’m passionate. And, the best part? If you don’t like it or you don’t agree with it, you don’t have to read it!

  • Terri Brown Potter

Who Runs the Cyber Security World?

The cyber security market is wide open. How can we get women to fill, and lead, that space?

One of my freelance writing assignments in 2018 was to promote a new cyber security program at a higher ed institution. In email, website, landing page, and webinar messaging, I extolled the lucrative opportunities awaiting those credentialed individuals. A white-hot market! A RIPE market! Run, don't walk, to the cyber security market!

On LinkedIn posts about cyber security, I wholeheartedly comment with bits of leftover copy from my assignments, always including my second favorite one-liner, "Exciting times are ahead!"

My passion is sincere. My belief is strong. My confidence is unwavering. I'm for real.

As my 2018 projects wrap up, I find myself with extra time to “hang out” on LinkedIN and Twitter, and to attend industry webinars, and to extend my cheerleading commentary on their posts to writing my own little posts with an even heavier dose of righteousness. And, without a modicum of self awareness (I wear shamelessness like a faux-fur stole on LinkedIN).

In all of my self-righteous and shameless glory, even I had to pause to ask myself, "For whom are all these exciting times ahead?"

And, the real answer I gave myself shook my confidence, challenged my beliefs, and dulled my passion. (for like, 45 seconds, but still). "Girl, not for someone who looks likes you or worse, thinks like you."

While waxing ecstatic the cyber security industry, I never really thought about these stats:

  1. There are 715,000-plus cyber security workers currently employed around the country. 

  2. US employers posted 313, 735 job openings for cyber security between September 2017 and August 2018.

  3. Women only make up 14% of the US cyber security workforce.

  4. By 2021 there could be 3.5 million unfilled cyber security jobs.

So many well-paying, secure professional roles unfilled, specifically, by so many who need gainful employment and job security. The gap for women and even larger gap for women of color is, to paraphrase Tim Gunn, enormously troublesome. On principle. In reality.

Brain power is not an issue. The book (and movie) Hidden Figures shows us the mathematical brilliance of three women who enabled the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, one of the greatest operations in history. The world's first machine algorithm was written by a woman. Women can do anything, including lead the cyber security industry.

Yet, we don't (really) even go there!

Every company is a tech company [my very favorite one-liner]. And, every company needs a cyber security strategy. And, if your cyber security strategy doesn't include a specific plan for gender diversity and inclusion, you've already made a mission critical error. So, let's fix this now.

For my part, I'll continue being the high-spirited cheerleader of (almost) all things tech. I'll bring my passion and confidence. I'll make it NICE. And, I'll make it fun and funny. I'll pull on heartstrings. I'll pull a few strings [all these LinkedIN connections should count for something]. I'll be relentless in my pursuit of closing the gender gap-iness in cyber security (and STEM).

My persuasion may not build a nation (of female cyber security professionals), but my shamelessness will fuel my effort.

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