HomeNewsThe role of women is crucial in cybersecurity

The role of women is crucial in cybersecurity

11 February: International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Breaking down walls and raising firewalls: the role of women is crucial in cybersecurity. Although careers and jobs related to science and technology have been traditionally the domain of men, the truth is that women have played a leading and fundamental role throughout history. With references such as Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu and Katherine Johnson, who broke down the barriers that prevented women from studying at technical universities; Kathleen Booth, a pioneer in low-level language programming; or South African Professor Tebello Nyokong, a globally award-winning scientific trailblazer in cancer-treating nanotechnology, many great women have excelled in the STEM field.

Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, wants to highlight the importance and necessity of STEM women in the present and future of the industry.

According to the report Women in Cybersecurity by (ISC)2, a decade ago, in 2013, women only accounted for a total of 11% of global jobs within the cybersecurity sector. Figures that by 2020 had already reached 24% of the total force and which, thanks to the unstoppable efforts of thousands of women, continues to increase today. However, with society still “outdated”, it is mandatory that we continue to make a concerted effort to reduce this gender gap and especially within the cybersecurity sector, where a huge talent gap (regardless of gender) exists. Every ounce of sand adds up, with no gesture or action too small to help.

The cybersecurity sector is one of the fastest growing segments in every country, fueled by the current rise in number of cyberattacks. During the past six months, Check Point Research has seen an increase in cyberattacks in South Africa, with an organization being attacked on average 1 468 times per week. With such alarming numbers, all efforts are necessary to cover this growing talent gap and to drive the growth of the segment in each country.

To achieve this goal, it is necessary to target all segments of this equation. For this reason, Check Point Software wants to highlight the three fundamental pillars that we must promote in order to increase the presence of women in this sector:

  • Support and educate, but first let them know more about it: one of the most important pillars for the development of STEM women is undoubtedly education. If there are no guidelines and basic knowledge of these careers, it is very difficult for the next generation to be interested in them. This is why there are an increasing number of programs and initiatives aimed at schools and institutes to try to encourage female students to follow their vocation in these fields.

However, despite the still low number of female students in IT disciplines, they do offer high performance in terms of tertiary education. According to a report compiled by Times Higher Education (THE) and the United Nations Scientific, Cultural and Educational Organization, 47% of African universities’ STEM graduates, undergraduates and postgraduate levels are women, the highest percentage in the world.

  • Learning should never end: Check Point Software participates in different conferences and events to attract new female candidates and talents to ensure a more balanced workforce  Likewise, it has also established mentoring initiatives such as the Woman Mentoring Program, a development campaign for future female leaders around the world to help support rising female leaders and managers in the company and in the field.

Exclusive for the EMEA region, this program runs every six months, during which time an experienced female manager or team leader mentors a less experienced female trainee. It is a learning and development partnership with a two-way exchange of guidance and advice, to support female colleagues who wish to acquire new skills in the world of cybersecurity.

In addition, Check Point Software has partnered with the Pan African Information Communication Technology Association (PAICTA), to address the digital challenges faced by SMEs, youth, women, and persons with disability. Check Point is providing PAICTA with access to training and instructors online to train and empower lecturers at partner universities to train students themselves. University students and faculty members will also be able to access Check Point cybersecurity training online for free, ensuring equitable access to digital skills development.

  • Giving visibility to women especially those in senior STEM positions: another fundamental pillar to work on, since the lack of recognition of existing female leaders within this sector may have repercussions on young women’s decisions when it comes to embarking on STEM careers.

In Africa, men continue to outnumber women in the growing field of cyber security – even as more women are entering the industry. According to a 2020 study by the University of North Carolina on the underrepresentation of women in cybersecurity, women only make up 9% of the cybersecurity workforce on the continent.

Check Point Software continually strives to spotlight key strides achieved by our female leaders in driving the cybersecurity field forwards on a new path. Specifically, Check Point continually demonstrates a support for and recognition of the senior female leaders within the cybersecurity field and within the Check Point organization- such as Maya Horowitz, Vice-president of Research, to share her opinions and personal experiences on how she evolved to reach this position of influence and responsibility.

“Among the many positive things about my job, what I value most, is the fact that I get to work alongside very talented people who are also interesting and diverse. At Check Point Software, we have always been very committed not only to equality, but to breaking down bias in the workplace when it comes to hiring, training, and evaluating our employees” explains Maya herself.

“To this end, we run special programs dedicated to developing the careers of all our female employees, for example, in the area of training. We have launched a high-performance mentoring program to develop the careers of women in our teams and another focused on leadership development for future female managers in our company.

It is encouraging to see that more and more girls are showing interest in STEM and have been shown to consistently outperform boys in math and science-related assessments. However, STEM is still often seen as more relevant and applicable to men. Several surveys and studies have shown that girls who do not have role models in STEM are highly unlikely to consider these disciplines as a field of study or career choice. We need to continue to do more to educate, inspire and empower future generations to see themselves in these careers”.

Charnie-Lee Adams-Kruger, Country Manager for South Africa, adds, “With cybersecurity one of the fastest growing industries today, it is critical that we support women in STEM to find opportunities in this field. Through mentorship programs, visible role models and nurturing talent at a young age, we can help to break existing barriers to equal representation in STEM. This will build a diverse, innovative  workforce that’s needed for the digital future of South Africa, as well as the continent.”

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About Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (https://www.checkpoint.com/) is a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions to corporate enterprises and governments globally.  Check Point Infinity’s portfolio of solutions protects enterprises and public organisations from 5th generation cyberattacks with an industry leading catch rate of malware, ransomware and other threats. Infinity comprises four core pillars delivering uncompromised security and generation V threat prevention across enterprise environments: Check Point Harmony, for remote users; Check Point CloudGuard, to automatically secure clouds; and Check Point Quantum, to protect network perimeters and datacenters, all controlled by the industry’s most comprehensive, intuitive unified security management; Check Point Horizon, a prevention-first security operations suite. Check Point protects over 100,000 organizations of all sizes.