It’s going to be a great year for diversity at RSA Conference 2016! Several crowd sourced sessions and speaker topics are scheduled which will prompt discussions around the issue of the lack women in tech and cybersecurity. These topics, along with groups and panels, seem to show that this issue is going mainstream at #RSAC this year. CyberSN and #brainbabe both have a vested interest in seeing the diversity conversation come to the forefront at tech conferences, RSA in particular, because the name of our not-for-profit organization www.brainbabe.org was born out of a frustration that booth babes still exist. These “babes” are a large percentage of the women at tech conferences, and yet the discussion about their presence so far has been about “banning” their outfits (a subject we wrote about last year), rather than recruiting and training them, which would help us expand the amount of women in technology professions! You can read more about this subject in “Why #brainbabe,” a blog by Deidre Diamond, Founder and CEO of CyberSN and Founder of Brainbabe.org.
Within our own company, we are seeing an awesome swell of support surrounding the topic of women in tech and cybersecurity. For the second year, RSA held public voting on Crowdsourced Submission Topics to round out their schedule with topics from the cybersecurity community, and the call for speakers was open to the public. From all the submissions received, the judges chose 35 of them to compete for 17 speaking spots and Deidre’s talk was chosen as a finalist. Since a version of this article was originally published, she has officially been selected to speak! Her talk “From pigtails, to prom, to a cyber career: what about your daughter?” will be shared at RSA Conference 2016 on Tuesday March 1 in Room 130 North from 1:10-2:00pm. If you plan on attending the conference, we hope you will check it out. Deidre will be speaking about encouraging women to consider careers in tech that they otherwise might not think about choosing. A major obstacle in getting more people into tech is the perception that one must be technical to be a part of the profession–but the major of all cybersecurity roles are actually not technical. We can empower more people to join the community by expanding our definition of what it means to be “in tech.” Her inclusion in the program, by popular demand, proves that people are seeking out topics about how and why we can empower women in cyber security.
If you are looking for ways to join the diversity conversation while at RSA this year, here are some suggestions:
- On Monday, February 29th, you should go see, “Should I Stay or Should I Go? How to Attract/Retain Women in the Industry,” with panelists from (ISC)2, AIG, Optiv, Booz Allen Hamilton and HP. This topic is encouraging as it means the biggest companies in the world are finally embracing the need to address this national security problem.
- In addition to Deidre’s talk, which is Tuesday at 1:10 in Room 130N, there is also a session titled: “A Fitness Test for Fostering Women Leaders in IT Security” which sounds like it will be a great talk.
- Returning this year, happening on Wednesday evening, March 2nd, is the “Executive Women’s Forum Meet & Greet” where women attending RSA can enjoy a “fun, relaxed, and professional get together.”
- Thursday, CyberSN and #brainbabe are hosting an event at Bespoke (only 6 minutes from the Moscone Center) and we would love to have you join us to find out how you can help us be part of the solution.
In closing, I must also highlight a group called Equal Respect, which is “a grass root initiative that promotes open and respectful environments at professional events,” that is planning to have a presence at RSA this year. They call for events that, “prohibit and discourage promotional or marketing behaviors that disrespect groups of attendees based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity,” and we at CyberSN.com and Brainbabe.org are proud to be co-sponsors of their presence at RSA Conference 2016. It is groups like Equal Respect that will help raise awareness and overcome the obstacles that are keeping more women from joining the cybersecurity community.