Founder’s Note: The subject of this blog is very near and dear to my heart. For 21 years I have been involved in training entry-level people and I know first-hand people can be trained fast. The problem with “booth babes” isn’t that they are babes, it’s that they aren’t trained to be more than babes! We are all human and humans are attracted to other humans; this isn’t something that should be looked down upon, but rather, embraced. Instead, imagine if “booth babes” were actually trained in understanding cybersecurity concepts. Now, that is exciting! So here is to training all people, male and female. Please join us in having a conversation about this and join the #brainbabe supporters on Twitter! I hope you enjoy the blog below from Lisa Kendall, our Sr. Marketing Specialist. – Deidre, CEO and Founder
Women in tech: let’s celebrate our industry leading the charge in breaking gender barriers. Recently, RSA announced that “booth babes” are not permitted at their 2015 conference in San Francisco next week. As reported, Linda Grey of RSA Conferences says, RSA wants to “…make security professionals feel comfortable and equally respected during the show.” As the demand for cybersecurity professionals grows, so should our outlook about creating an inclusive atmosphere for everyone.
The reasoning behind banning “babes” is sound. Aside from the fact booth babes don’t work, it’s also off-putting to both women and men who are attending these events with the intention of doing business. In January 2014, Spencer Chen, the then marketing head for Frontback (now the marketing head for Axiom Zen), wrote about how he had actually conducted a test demonstrating that the presence of these models creates awkwardness and results in low-quality leads for the attendees. And as Chen notes, tech networking events and conferences are expensive to attend, and they present critical networking opportunities for businesses. Yet, there is a distraction from all of this in the form of “booth babes.”
Imagine instead, an event where companies stand out for the quality of their product and service and not for the showmanship of their models. That’s an event that the entire cybersecurity community is more likely to attend and enjoy. Forward-thinking policies like the one RSA is enacting, as noted by Kate Cox in 2012, “…foster an environment where women are around to sell the products, not to be the products.” This is awesome news for women and for the cybersecurity community, overall.
Thankfully, in my own career, I have managed to work with some amazing women and men who prioritized skills over gender, and who faced the gender bias head-on. In previous, less conscientious roles, I have also seen first-hand gender inequality in action. It’s awe-inspiring to imagine what the technology industry could accomplish if we could become the first industry to establish workplace parity. I’ve seen it both ways, and I know which way I hope our community continues to move towards.
The technology community has definitely become more aware of the necessity of inclusivity. Historically, Men and women have certainly worked together in technology since its origin. But there’s a real social value in the projects geared towards science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)roles, especially for women and students of color. Projects and non-profits such as: Made With Code by Google, Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, Code.org, and organizations like the National Center for Women & Information Technology are leading the charge. These groups (and many others) are doing amazing things to increase awareness and diversity within the tech community.
According to Code.org, by 2020 there will be one million more computer science jobs than students, and 1.4 million computing jobs in total. In 2013, ISC(2) reported that women comprised only 11% of the information security workforce, but NCWIT reports that 26% of all “professional computing occupations” in 2014 were held by women—so things are moving in the right direction, slowly but surely. While women are definitely continuing to do great things in technology, the tech community will need more women entering the sector than ever if it hopes to meet rising labor demands. So let’s continue to make educating every person, of every gender, a priority to make the technology and security communities their best.
That’s why CyberSN is happy to initiate the #brainbabe conversation! Let’s put the emphasis on training and education to move this community even farther into the future.
Lisa Kendall, Sr. Marketing Specialist
Lisa Kendall a Senior Marketing Specialist at CyberSN. She has a BA in Women’s Studies from UCSB and has worked in the tech recruiting and IT industries since 2005. Twitter: @Lisa_CyberSN