Push for Progress: Empowering Women in Cybersecurity With Voice, Vision and Innovation

International Women’s Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the push for progress is over. All across the world — in industries far and wide — women were celebrated for their accomplishments on March 8.

Here at IBM, women were asked to submit a video or photo to demonstrate how we’ve helped the industry thrive. All the submissions were compiled into a video to show how women across the globe are making waves within our organization.

My statement was simple: “Empowering women through voice, vision and innovation.”

Whitney Sizemore of IBM Security

Three Reasons Why I’m Proud to Be a Woman in Cybersecurity

IBM goes above and beyond to help empower women and, in turn, we can empower one another. Below I will share three reasons why I am proud to be a woman in cybersecurity.

But first, I want to explain the urgency being placed on cybersecurity: Industry professionals and companies like IBM are going the extra mile to educate women of all ages about what cybersecurity is, how it’s rapidly affecting our world and what women can do to help change it. As just one example, IBM hosts global events called #IBMCyberDay4Girls to teach eighth-grade girls about the vast opportunities within cybersecurity careers.

This quote from Robbie Sinclair of eLearn Security stuck with me for years: “Security is always excessive until it is not enough.” As a cybersecurity professional, it’s crucial to always be thinking about what’s next and preparing for the battle — not looking back at the past.

Watch the on-demand webinar: Why the future for Women in Security is Now

Now, without further ado, here’s why I’m proud to be a woman in cybersecurity.

1. Sparking Change

According to “The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity,” women comprise only 11 percent of the global information security workforce. This number is frightening to see. So many women could be a perfect fit for cybersecurity, but they may have never considered it as a viable career choice. I am proud to help spark change by speaking and helping facilitate multiple #IBMCyberDay4Girls events every year. I am also proud to be among the 11 percent working in this industry and sharing my expertise with others.

2. You Can Be a Cyber Hero

Many women love the idea of caring for and helping people. But some likely picture cybersecurity professionals as faceless men in basements furiously typing away — not making a meaningful difference in the world. This picture is far from the truth: As a woman in cybersecurity, I genuinely feel like I get to put on a cape every day and play a small part in heroic efforts to fight cybercrime. When we have a successful project and can catch things before a data breach occurs, it’s incredibly rewarding to know that I am helping someone — if not millions of people — by protecting critical information.

3. Standing Up for Equality

Being a woman in cybersecurity can be difficult because you are in the minority. But at the right company, you feel inspired to keep pressing on, to prove yourself to others and to stand up for what is right knowing that you have a group of people out there supporting you. Unfortunately, not every company is as open to change as IBM.

As a woman, it is important to understand equality and fight for it. For example, it is OK to negotiate your salary. Know your worth and value, and if you think you deserve more, ask for it! I have been lucky to work for a company that pushes me to be the best I can be and cherishes the success of women. I learned that it is OK to stand up for myself, and I am proud of that.

Women Empowering Women in Cybersecurity

There are a million reasons why I am proud of my job and proud to be a woman in cybersecurity. It is truly an honor! When I was young, I used to sit on my dad’s lap while he did computer programming. He instilled in me the importance of knowing my value and understanding that I could do anything, including cybersecurity. I hope women will continue to empower other women. I hope men will continue to support us and treat us as equals. And I hope women in cybersecurity will be proud of their successes, both big and small.

Watch the on-demand webinar: Why the future for Women in Security is Now

Whitney Sizemore

Project Manager for Managed Security Services, IBM

Whitney Sizemore is a graduate of Texas Tech University who works as a Project Manager in Atlanta, GA. Whitney is known...