What advice would you provide to women thinking about a career in cybersecurity & technology?
A woman thinking about a career in cybersecurity and technology must understand she is a minority which means she will face a combination of opportunities and challenges. Any profession offering incomes ranging from 100k+ up to millions of dollars are professions that are new to female participation, and consequently come with a unique set of challenges. I tell women to be prepared to have strong soft and hard skills, be prepared to go above and beyond to show your value, prepare to dress like an executive from day one, and to prepare to take yourself as seriously as men take other men. I also encourage women to look for men who treat women in a professional manner, and to only work for that type of man – do not settle! A woman joining cybersecurity and technology today is entering a man’s business and she ought to be prepared in her thoughts and actions. A woman can have a great career if she understands the way to participate.
Are there any particular challenges that you have personally faced in your cyber career?
Of course. I am a woman, and only 4% of C-level executive seats in US Fortune 500 companies are held by women. Women face specific challenges every day that are different from the challenges experienced by men. Most women face challenges the minute they walk into the workplace: sexual advances, unequal pay and not being heard are a few of the most common offenses. I’m very lucky in that my personal challenges only arose when I started being paid at the executive level and calling the shots for how millions of dollars were going to be spent – when the stakes became high, my judgement calls were met with a level of scrutiny my male colleagues never faced. Again, I am rare in that this treatment came late in my career and is consequently why I am still so thankful to have worked for the men who mentored me for twenty years.
What are current diversity employment and training initiatives missing?
Current diversity employment and training initiatives are missing a focus on retention. More women leave cyber than join cyber. In a recent NCWIT study, it was found that 56% of women leave their jobs in tech in under 10 years because of cultural challenges. For example, the first talk in Las Vegas at DefCon 2016 I attended, used strippers as the example for how to successfully social engineer. It was awful, unprofessional and not conducive to training women or to teaching men how to be in business with women. This is just one example of why women are leaving the community. In addition, we do not have a safe place for women to report discriminatory behavior. HR departments protect companies over their employees. We have seen this time and time again, and women have now resorted to leaving their jobs instead of reporting problems. Even further is the debate over people believing equal opportunity laws are making it harder for women to be seen as equals amongst men (meaning, men resent the law and hold it against women whom are hired to work with them.) In short, we still have major challenges including: job or climate dissatisfaction, pay inequity, pressure from family issues, gender discrimination, lack of social change, or lack of support from employers for advancement.
The good news is there are amazing men and women seeking to figure this out!
Are your role models found within or mostly outside of your industry?
The majority of my role models have all been within my industry. They are the people who hired and trained me for many years. I also found some trainers in transformational mind dynamics and leadership training who have been very powerful mentors.
About Deidre Diamond:
Deidre Diamond is the Founder and CEO of the national cyber security staffing company CyberSN, and the not-for-profit organization #brainbabe (brainbabe.org), as well as a Strategic Board Member of ICMCP. Prior to founding CyberSN.com and #brainbabe, she was the CEO of Percussion Software, the first VP of Sales at Rapid7 (NYSE:RPD) and the VP of Sales for the national technical staffing company Motion Recruitment. Because Diamond herself was hired as an entry-level college graduate and trained to lead technology service organizations and cyber security organizations, she believes the tech community needs to expand its awareness of what it means “to be in tech” and what it means “to be in cyber security.” Diamond desires to achieve a new way of hiring and retaining women in cyber security.