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All Women on Deck at RESET Cyber Conference

With more than 15 female experts in cybersecurity scheduled to speak on the evolving cyber threat landscape, RESET, hosted by BAE Systems, claims to be challenging the status quo with its all-female speaker lineup.

Scheduled for 14 June at the Kennedy Lecture Theatre, University College London (UCL), the conference is open to all security professionals and will "provide in-depth knowledge of destructive cyber-attacks and criminal operations, threat hunting and strategy, and human centric security. In panel discussions, we consider public and private roles in defending cyber space and the risks of securing the un-securable as new technologies emerge."

What is unique about this event is the speaker lineup. BAE Systems threat intelligence analysts Kirsten Ward and Saher Naumaan have launched the event not only to bring professionals together to engage in a discussion about the evolving threat landscape, but also in part to showcase the impressive women who are often not invited to speak at industry conferences. 

“There are plenty of exceptional women qualified to speak at such conferences. But because they are not promoted or given as much exposure as men, their participation is disproportionately skewed. We’re correcting this existing imbalance: all any conference organisers have to do is what we did – put in a little effort,” Naumaan said in an interview with Forbes Magazine.

After feeling unwelcomed at many cybersecurity conferences because of the striking lack of diversity, Ward and Naumaan decided it was time to "RESET" the balance. They proposed their idea for a conference with a list of exclusively female speakers, and it took them little time to come up with a list of women suited for the task. In only a few hours, they had mounted more than 100 names.

It's well known that women represent only 11% of the cybersecurity industry. That number hasn't changed for a few years. While many conferences do have sessions on their agenda that are exclusively for women, most often those are about issues in the workplace. Ward and Naumaan said that's helpful but doesn't go far enough to address the issues of gender inequality in the industry. 

Ward said, "We want people to see them first and foremost as experts in cyber security. We’re putting these brilliant women on the podium to share their expertise and stories and to unpack some of the biggest questions facing us in cyber security today.”

Naumaan also hopes the conference will lead to fewer people asking individual women what it’s like to be a female in STEM. "We want to give these women the opportunity to talk about their research and what they are knowledgeable about. We’re making it about their work, not about their gender,” Naumaan said.

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