The field of cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing in the job market, having grown by as much as 30 times in the past decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people to spend most of the day at home in front of their computers. This has opened up new opportunities for cybercriminals to conduct attacks. According to a study by "LearnBonds", 70% of large companies are looking to strengthen their cybersecurity after the pandemic. The need for cybersecurity specialists is evident all over the world. Moreover, women make up only a small number of these professionals - about 15-25%, according to various estimates.
Several experts working in this sphere agreed to share their opinions and thoughts as well as career perspectives and ways to utilize one's talent in this unique field.
"SOLUTIONLAB PRODUCTION“ Director and partner Zoja Antuchevič and "Women4Cyber“ representative and Lithuanian branch coordinator Inga Žukauskienė, members Aušra Dilijonaitė and Julija Kovalenko shared their thoughts.
Tell us briefly about the "Women4Cyber“ initiative and how the idea for Lithuania to join came about?
Inga Žukauskienė: The "Women4Cyber“ iniciative was established in Europe in 2017, when the European "Women4Cyber“ organization was set up. The bylaws of the Organization allow the possibility to establish branches in various European countries. Having heard about this opportunity, I thought it would be great for Lithuania also to have its own branch and get the word out about cybersecurity opportunities, to unite an active community of women. The "Women4Cyber" Lithuania branch was established in May 2021.
Why is women's involvement in cybersecurity so important?
Zoja Antuchevič: Usually, cyber security and modern technologies are associated with male employees, but the role of women should be no less important in this profession. As you know, men and women see the same things differently, so they can complement each other in their professional activities and help reflect each other's best qualities and competencies. During my studies, I had several mentors, some of them were men, some were women. It was their experience, advice, different perspectives and encouragement to experiment that brought me to where I am now. Together with my colleagues, we are helping to rid of the stereotype that cybernetics is a male field.
Julija Kovalenko: I remembered the thoughts of the “Women4Cyber” European Head Luigi Rebuffi, that the need for specialists in the field of cybersecurity is huge and attracting more women would help to solve not only the issue of gender equality, but also increase competitiveness in this professional field. I have a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Law, and only later I began cybersecurity studies. When I started studying, I saw how stark the gender gap was between students. Men were very disproportionately dominant. I realize that the problem lies not only in stereotypes, but also in education, because there is a lack of presentation of this sector, encouragement and encouragement for girls to take an interest and, for example, and to choose to study Cybersecurity Management. I want to point out that in society, cybersecurity is understood quite narrowly, only as a technical thing, or searching for cyber intruders or loopholes. But if we looked at cybersecurity in the broad sense, we would see a parallel with Law, Psychology and Management. Cybersecurity is an interdisciplinary subject. Different competencies among employees help reach a more successful result. The more diverse we are, the better the result.
What prompted you to choose a career in cybersecurity?
Zoja Antuchevič: From childhood I was interested in technologies. At my grandparents, I would try to fix the television from existing parts. After such “fixing” of the TV, it would “miraculously” come to life. I like to understand how certain things work. Learning more about technologies is an inspiration for me. I like to see how individuals react to the latest technologies and how their life changes using technologies. It is interesting to find out about the newest technologies and learn what awaits in the future and where we are all heading.
Aušra Dilijonaitė: My career path was more traditional. I studied IT. At the university, the cybersecurity course was one of the most interesting. However, I always thought I wasn't enough of a "technical" person so that I could work in cybersecurity. After several years of work with projects in the cybersecurity area, anything dealing with cybersecurity was interesting for me. I gathered the courage to study informational security and digital forensices and then got a job in the Safety Operations Center as an analyst.
What advice do you have for those embarking on their professional path and still trying to determine whether to choose cyberseurity?
Inga Žukauskienė: There's nothing for youth, who are just making their first steps on the professional path, to fear or to be apprehensive about thow their journey will end. When you are young, you can search and experiment. No one knows what the future holds in 5 or even 10 years. That is why we have to be open to change. Everything is changing. Knowledge of cybersecurity is necessary today and will be necessary in the future. That is why invite all who are considering about a career, to take a more closer look at areas relating to technologies and careers there.
Zoja Antuchevič: I think you don't have to be afraid to make mistakes. One must learn from mistakes. The search for knowledge, experimentation is a wonderful professional journey. To be open to others and to yourself, helps to properly choose. I encourage all to break those stereotypes and to prove that women and technologies can successfully coexist.
Julija Kovalenko: I think we need to encourage not only youth, but also older individuals to have the courage to change professions, find something new that may become an activity that you actually like. You can apply the experience that you already have in the cybersecurity area.
More information about the Cybersecurity Management programme here.