Reflections on Women in Cybersecurity

September 2, 2020
Blog Images 2022 09 02 Tile

I joined Coalfire in 2014. At the time, there were very few women in cyber, much less in leadership roles. As it sometimes happens, I found myself in an elevator with Tom McAndrew, who is now our CEO. We started talking about the direction of my career and plans for my role as Director of Coalfire’s Quality Management System. He asked me a simple question, “What are you doing next?” I had to suddenly come up with a literal elevator pitch of what I could do in my sphere of influence.
Tom reminded me of my goals and our vision when I joined Coalfire. Besides advancing quality and building on continual improvement, my personal goal was to see more women in cybersecurity. More specifically, I wanted to show women still in college or just beginning their careers that there are women in technical roles and leadership. I was tired of being alone—I needed to bring more women to this field. With Tom’s support, and the support of my wonderful colleagues, both male and female, we worked to create women in cybersecurity employee resource group. Coalfire RISE was born in the fall of 2016.
In February 2017, the Coalfire RISE Steering Committee was elected and began working on its mission. Nominees came from the membership at-large and my cohorts, my co-founders for this endeavor. Our members included women who wanted to grow within the industry and the men who supported that growth.
The mission of RISE has four main goals: 

  1. Recruit women into a cybersecurity career at Coalfire
  2. Influence leaders within the industry by bringing visibility to women in cyber and participating in community outreach and events
  3. Support women working at Coalfire, in all levels of their career, by promoting advancement networking opportunities
  4. Educate and create training opportunities for women in cyber seeking to grow into leadership

On International Women in Cyber Day, I reflect on my decades-long career in IT and cyber and realize how extremely fortunate I have been in my career.  I am challenged, I have mentors, and I have advocates for my success. I know so many great women. Not all of us in this industry are that lucky.
As the founder of RISE, and former co-chair, today I celebrate the extraordinary women and men with whom I work. I am proud to look around and now see how our female workforce has grown—much faster than I expected—and more than the North American average. Coalfire has women from Senior Managers to our Board who are invested in making the world a safer place through cybersecurity.
All of us have a story, one that is influenced by the various reasons we chose this field and by the ways in which we have been supported and mentored. Coalfire RISE was created to support everyone; to support women no matter where they are in their career; to get to know others who care about our success; and to help women grow and learn, so we can all rise together.