Why We Created the Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship

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By Celeste Blodgett, VP of Human Resources, ESET

Here’s a situation that will sound familiar to any woman working in cybersecurity: You’re at a conference. You look around the room. Of the hundreds of attendees, you realize you’re one of the only women. For many years, this was my reality.

Here at ESET we’re very supportive of diversity and we do pretty well, but one persistent challenge is in attracting more women to work for us. This is not unique to ESET—it’s something that’s happening across the board with cybersecurity companies. And here in our headquarters city of San Diego, my peers locally are all having trouble finding females to fill technical roles.

Today, ESET is taking another step forward in its longtime support of women in technology with the launch of a $2,500 Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship, to be awarded to a female student who aspires to a career in cybersecurity. The award will be presented to the recipient at San Diego Police Foundation’s Women in Blue luncheon on March 30, 2016 in San Diego, Calif.

In choosing the award recipient, we will be giving special consideration to applicants attending a regional college or university that seek a career in cybersecurity. (Note applicants do not need to be currently enrolled in a ‘cybersecurity’ program but they should aspire to a career or future education in cybersecurity.) If you or someone you know is a female student interested in the field, I welcome you to download the application and apply.

Why is this so important? For one, it’s been predicted that by the year 2020, the world will need 1.5 million more information security professionals. As a former teacher myself, I’ve known very intelligent young ladies who can do this kind of work. But I also know firsthand that teachers have tended to steer girls toward humanities and boys more toward math and science. There are signs that is starting to change—for proof, just watch this video featuring the girls who attended our Cyber Boot Camp 2015, which has gone from zero girls to 40 percent in just three years. Now it’s time to accelerate.

Second, balance is one of the most important factors in ESET’s health and continued success as a company. Women bring different perspectives, viewpoints and approaches to problem-solving to the table, in everyday meetings and in the board rooms. This diversity of perspectives is particularly critical for the future of technology, as our Sr. Security Researcher Stephen Cobb highlighted in his recent TEDx talk (see the “white male effect” starting at 8:19), as well as for the future of our workforce, as our security researcher Lysa Myers has written.

ESET is proud to support women in STEM-related fields and promote equality in every aspect of the human professional experience. We believe that diversity and equality will only serve to advance cybersecurity and cyber-adjacent industries.

Today, I ask you to join us. Share this opportunity—and help nurture the next generation of cyber defenders.