2019 Cybersecurity Women On Capitol Hill Public/Private Symposium
I didn’t hesitate to accept when Schellman & Company asked if I would represent our team at the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) Third Annual Cybersecurity Women on Capitol Hill Public/Private Symposium last month.
Female cybersecurity leaders from both public and private sectors joined EWF for two days in Washington, DC to discuss the necessary inclusion of women as industry subject matter experts during the legislative process, including the development of educational initiatives to support cybersecurity training for female military veterans.
"...cybersecurity is a significant national concern that impacts everyone regardless of sex or gender, and women must have an equal role in helping to inform and guide our congressional leaders as the United States struggles to address ever-evolving and increasingly frequent cyberthreats."
Cybersecurity and women’s role in cybersecurity is a nonpartisan issue. Around the world, we see increased doubt about both the government and private industry’s ability to prevent and respond to threats related to national security, political and election security, and financial security. The United States has seen a recent emergence of cyber-related legislation as our government tries to mitigate the risks of increasing cyber threats. However, the U.S. currently faces a massive deficit of cybersecurity employees, and only about 20% of the existing (and insufficient) cyber workforce are women. One symposium speaker cited that only 206 of the total 979 individuals who have testified as cyber experts before Congress have been female. But cybersecurity is a significant national concern that impacts everyone regardless of sex or gender, and women must have an equal role in helping to inform and guide our congressional leaders as the United States struggles to address ever-evolving and increasingly frequent cyberthreats.
In an effort to address this underrepresentation and increase thought diversity in the field, EWF organized 36 congressional meetings to discuss the need for female representation in strengthening public and private sector relationships. Industry leaders provided keynote speeches and participated in panel discussions to discuss a variety of topics, including the state of cybersecurity in the aviation industry and public- private sector collaborations to promote election integrity and security.
EWF specifically highlighted the underutilization of female veterans as resources that could and should be included in the national conversation regarding the improvement of the U.S. cybersecurity posture. Already faced with an insufficient cyber-knowledgeable workforce, we should promote and encourage female veterans’ involvement in the industry. As former service members with demonstrated capability and interest in protecting our nation, female Veterans are ideal candidates to include in the development of protective and proactive cyber-related legislation. By making post-service education and skills training available to this group, we can help build the cyber community and take steps toward closing the industry gender gap.
I so appreciate the opportunity to have joined this group of leaders on Capitol Hill to engage in these conversations. Not only is the inclusion of women, and particularly women Veterans, critical to strengthening our national cybersecurity policies, it is also the right and fair thing to do. Schellman & Company demonstrates our commitment to valuing diversity and equality, as well as our concern for and involvement in national cybersecurity objectives, by participating in the EWF symposium. Experiencing the concentration of knowledge, professionalism, and kindness truly inspires me to both represent and advocate for the increased role of women in the industry, and I’m proud that Schellman & Company recognizes the importance of female contribution in our national and global cybersecurity efforts.
About Annie Gaestel
Annie Gaestel is Senior Associate with Schellman & Company, LLC. Prior to joining Schellman in April 2018, Annie worked as an Information Assurance Senior at Cotton & Company, specializing in performing federal financial statement audits and commercial consulting services related to information technology and business processes. As a Senior Associate with Schellman, Annie Gaestel is focused primarily on SOC examinations for organizations across various industries.