Ilantus has been in the Identity Management space since the year 2000. Identity Management is a cybersecurity discipline. With our recent partnership with a female-owned Identity and Access Management Assessment and Implementation services company and with women making up more than 25% of our company and growing as we hire more resources, we decided to take a look at women in this field.
Cybersecurity is among the most challenging fields to work in, not only because of how critical it is – but, there just are not enough people who pursue the domain. A key factor contributing to this imbalance is the lack of participation of women in the field. In fact, until 2013, there were only 11% of women in the industry. Cybersecurity Ventures even predicted that by 2021, 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs are going to remain unfulfilled. Although the number increased to 20% in 2019, there is still a vast pool of untapped talent that can help close the gaps.
What has contributed to this gap-
- An IBM report showed how 46% of men considered a career in tech as early as in high school, while a majority of women 53% considered it only during the undergraduate degree or grad school.
- A study found that 51% of women in Cybersecurity faced some form of discrimination.
- In a study by Github users, code that was written by women was accepted 78.6% of the time, which is 4% more than the men. But, this only occurred when their gender was kept a secret.
- Be it a cybersecurity technology exhibition or a conference, most of the exhibitors and the attendees are men –
– “In almost every engineering team that I’ve been a part of, I’ve been one of one or two women,” says Elliot, senior director of product engineering of Tenable.io in an article on Forbes.
– “The lack of gender diversity is definitely apparent, especially when you attend events, such as RSA or Black Hat, and men make up the vast majority of attendees.”
- From 1980 to 2010, 88% of all information technology patents were driven by teams composed of only men.
Companies are looking to make a change
More companies are being founded by women. More businesses want to hire based on talent and merit-based on diversity, not based on gender. In fact, a report by Morgan Stanley showed how companies with more gender diversity had, on average, 0.7 % better ROE (Return on Equity) than regional sector peers. The number increased to 1.1 % better ROE than businesses with low representation of women in the workplace. It is also a driving economic factor, as well. According to McKinsey,$12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.
At Ilantus – we look for talent and merit and have found many of these qualities in women. Akshatha BS, an Ilantus Product Manager, has some inspiring words when asked why she chose to pursue a career in this domain.
“Cybersecurity has become critical in recent years as regulatory compliance requirements have become increasingly more complex. I was always intrigued by the mysteries of cybersecurity and rejoiced my work in the IAM space. If I were to go back in time, I would still choose the field with all its challenges and the expectation to constantly innovate. For me, the draw definitely is the fact that there is constant growth here. There is no room for stagnation!”
When asked about who was her role model to pursue a career in the tech domain, Akshatha, says,
“My mother is my guiding light. Her spirit of resilience was definitely behind my decision to choose such a challenging career. That apart, stalwarts such as Bhavani Thuraisingham, who is a distinguished Professor of computer science and the Executive Director of the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas, are definitely paving the way with research and passion. “
This attempt to capture the women in our community who are making a mark in cybersecurity is not complete without recounting our Partners’ contribution –
Meet Formmi Inc.
Founded by two women, Roopa Chowbey and Savitha Bilgikar, Formmi Inc is comprised of a team of highly experienced professionals who have implemented and managed processes, programs, and operations in the areas of Information Security (Identity and Access Management), Operational Risk Management, and Cloud enablement.
Here is what they have to say about their journey.
“Formmi Inc was started with the vision of being a leader in delivering security solutions to eliminate enterprise risk. With two highly experienced Information technology professionals at the helm, we have made it our mission to help organizations build sustainable and efficient information security operations.
When we started the company, we knew that being entrepreneurs meant a lot of commitment, dedication and hard work. We expect that our past experience and success at various large and global organizations will enable us to bring a change in the Identity and Access Management services space.
Also, as women professionals we bring in diverse approaches and philosophies to the traditional IT services model. We believe in no-wastage – our services are engineered to be efficient, based on our unique methodology developed using our best practices. Our corporate values include fostering a culture of integrity, diversity of thought, compassion and continuous improvement. These core values are very important to us and drive our professional relationships.”
Furthermore, here are some thoughts from each of them about being women in identity.
Roopa Chowbey says,
“I do believe that as a woman leader in the Information Security space, it is important that I do not mimic the management or leadership style of a male leader or mentor. A majority of the professionals in this space are currently men and I probably would not bring in any value or new ideas to the table if I thought as a man would. It is exciting for me to realize that what I previously saw as something trivial or mundane because of my diverse background, could actually be a novel idea in a different environment.
It can be disheartening to see that as a woman entrepreneur in the IS field, one is not taken as seriously as a male colleague would be. Looking back, there are numerous instances when vendors, colleagues or superiors have displayed an unconscious bias. It is a disturbing observation and needs to be addressed by all of us in this and other professions. But it is important that we do not allow this bias to control our personal narrative.
The one piece of advice that I always give my team members is: Do not let the quality of your work or success be defined by what others think of you. If you are honest to yourself and feel satisfied with what you have done at the end of each day, then that is the best measurement of your success at work. I guess one could apply this same philosophy to our personal life too! “
Savitha Bilgikar says,
“There is a lot in today’s business world that women leaders cannot control, but one specific hurdle that we can control is work-life harmony. Recent studies show that women leaders comprise 40% of all managerial positions of Fortune 1000 companies, but it is disheartening to see women leaders stepping down from leadership roles at an alarming rate. In my personal experience, professional women are struggling to navigate their career without making huge sacrifices in their personal life. Mostly women are left unfulfilled at work and home. But success does not always require sacrifice, there is a simple paradigm shift to balance a demanding professional career with a rich and rewarding personal life.
My advice is, allow your passion to become your purpose. Secondly, be fearlessly authentic. The more you value yourself and stay authentic, the more fun life becomes and the more you will collaborate with like-minded people who have similar values and goals. Lastly, continue to support women leaders and women in tech, in the workplace and at home. We point out all the bias in our environment and we don’t think about our own bias that no longer serve us. Studies show that unconscious bias starts at home when you choose to register your daughters to art/dance classes and sons to computer/robotics camps. Watch for IT!
Looking back, as a successful female tech leader, it’s been an incredible journey and I owe my success to my mentors, who taught me how to stay fearlessly authentic. “
And for those of us at Ilantus who are working with them, they are fearlessly authentic. They believe in helping the change to attract women into the field. They are currently involved in focused workshops with high school and college women to motivate them into the field. The only way to fill the hundreds of thousands of unfilled jobs in Cybersecurity is to recruit the talent and develop the needed skill sets.