Solidarity For Women In Cybersecurity

Sheila Becker, Vice President of Women Cyber Force.

Women Cyber Force is a Luxembourg-based non-profit tackling the gender disparity in cybersecurity. Sheila Becker, head of network and information security at ILR tells us more about why it was founded and what corporates can gain from applying for membership.

What is Women Cyber Force and why was it founded?

Women Cyber Force is a nonprofit organisation which was founded to promote the role of women in cybersecurity because there is a strong gender imbalance in the sector which is already suffering from labour shortages. Currently, women only make up between 10-15% of the workforce in cybersecurity, so attracting attention to this is important if we want to reduce the gender imbalance in our sector. Furthermore, if we manage to raise interest for more women to join the sector we could also work on reducing the labour shortage. 

Women Cyber Force aims to help women in cybersecurity who might feel a bit alone sometimes to network with other women, thereby giving them the space to share some of the struggles they’ve faced and feel heard.

What’s your role at Women Cyber Force?

Since February 2021, I have served as one of the two Vice Presidents. As VP, I enact our policy, communicate with the board and work on how we can attract more women, gain more visibility and partner with other companies. We have both corporate and personal memberships, so I try to promote both on an equal basis.

What does a corporate membership entail?

When we start a corporate partnership, we first talk to the company and ask how they can best benefit from being a member. But in general, we help relay their communications, such as job openings, news and events, thereby helping them gain more visibility.

Why do you think there is such a strong gender imbalance in cybersecurity?

On the one hand, I think it’s related to the fact that it is still a relatively new field and many people are afraid that it is too complicated. Also, women are often less confident than men when applying for jobs and are known only to apply to jobs for which they fulfil every requirement. Men on the other hand often apply even if they just meet half of the requirements.

What role do companies play in changing this imbalance?

In my experience, companies are actually willing to hire independent of gender and the problem is more tied to the lack of people in the field than anything else. The problem needs to be addressed before people enter the labour market which is why we did an event where we went to a high school and talked to some of the students about cybersecurity. A lot of girls attended the event and even though not all of them were interested, it was interesting to see that many of them were already aware of the biases women face.

What have you achieved since founding Women Cyber Force in 2021?

We have gained around 50 members which is already a good start considering we’ve only been around for a year. We’ve also had different events, one of which was with PwC in March on the topic of AI. Not all of our events are necessarily about cybersecurity, they are also tech in general which is a field where the gender imbalance is particularly skewed. We also meet up regularly with members in an informal setting where we socialise and talk about all sorts of topics, not necessarily tied to work.

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