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International Women's Day: Women in security weigh in

SC Magazine, March 8, 2018, interview with Shauntinez Jakab, Director Product Marketing, Virsec

Another trip around the sun, another International Women's Day. Women in cybersecurity have accomplished some amazing feats and bringing their talents to bear. The industry still has a long way to go to achieve true diversity, though. Today, SC Media is highlighting women who have made their mark in cybersecurity. SC will be rolling out interviews with women throughout the day, so check back frequently.

Q&A with Shauntinez Jakab, director, product marketing, Virsec 

SC: How have things changed for women in cybersecurity over the past few years?

SJ: In the Silicon Valley and around the world, more companies have become comfortable with hiring women (and Black women at that) in key Cybersecurity roles and within companies that compete in cybersecurity market. Years ago, you would never receive a call back, or the interview process would be interrupted if you were a female.  Yes, these things happen.

Look into many corporate IT and Security teams today, and you will find females in roles as architects, researchers, directors and even head of security.  Some of the best, most knowledgeable application and network security experts are women. After all, the Pentagon has placed Essye Miller as CISO. I think organizations are getting more excited about the notion of females joining what may still be a male dominated team.  For the high degree of education, attention to detail and professionalism we bring, today, your resume is highly considered and your experience is now less suspicious than it used to be -- if your name is Sally instead of Sam. Honestly, I think they are probably tired of looking at one another.

SC: What's your best advice for women in the field or interested in entering the field?

SJ: To women interested in the field, find the company that is right for you. Not all work cultures are the same.  Some may be dysfunctional and unprofessional, while others are highly pleasant and collaborative. Sometimes, it may take a few different settings to find your place. 

Always be forgiving of others and don't take yourself too seriously. Not everyone can meet personal standards we have established for ourselves. Security teams usually walk to their own beat. Baring harassment of any type, we must not write people off so quickly if we are disturbed by eccentricities. Find ways to overcome differences and work together amicable – and always have fun.   Women do stand out, so stay on top of your game. Cybersecurity requires continuous learning to be up to date and able to discuss relevant topics.  Write blogs and attend events. Take time to read and stay abreast of new technologies, attack types and even how organizations are evolving functions in this area. 

SC: Where do you think the best opportunities lie for women in the coming years

SJ: Providing expertise is where the opportunities continue to persist for women. Women can really establish themselves as business and technical cybersecurity experts supporting efforts to improve corporate or national security in roles that span strategic leadership positions, deep technical know-how, like architects, developers, administrators or analysts, and roles that communicate knowledge to the masses. Not all roles require a computing science degree, but the more relevant formal education or experience you have will set you apart. Its starts with what you like to do and the drive to continuously develop your skills in that area

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