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Women in Cyber: The Focus of Inaugural DC Symposium

More than 100 executive women in cybersecurity are participating in the inaugural EWF Cybersecurity Women on Capitol Hill Public/Private Symposium today. Sponsored by the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy, the event serves as a conduit between policymakers and women leaders in cybersecurity who have expertise on policy, critical infrastructure, leadership and technology issues.

One main focus of the event is diversity in workforce development.

“Despite increased interest in cybersecurity, the percentage of women cyber-warriors has hardly moved,” said Angela Messer, a Booz Allen executive vice president who leads the firm’s cyber-business and serves as a cyber-talent development champion. “We need a social shift that encourages young women and girls to embrace cyber and other STEM skills—an initiative we’ve been championing through programs like STEM Girls 4 Social Good and our Women’s Agenda.”

This day-long symposium dedicated to educating congressional members and staff on pressing cybersecurity issues is also geared towards establishing a platform for ongoing collaboration.

“For the past 15 years, the Executive Women’s Forum has been dedicated to engaging, developing and advancing women leaders in cybersecurity, and we’re proud to bring some of the brightest minds and most influential women in the field together with congressional members and staff to share knowledge and best practices,” said Joyce Brocaglia, CEO and Founder of the EWF. “The response to our inaugural Hill event has been tremendous—a fact we attribute to being at the nexus of women, cybersecurity, diversity and workforce development.”

The symposium has bipartisan participation, including representatives from Senate Armed Services and House Homeland Security Committees. Corporate expert panelists include Marene Allison, Chief Security Officer of Johnson & Johnson, Rhonda MacLean, CEO of MacLean Risk Partners, Wafaa Mamilli, Chief information Security Officer of Eli Lilly; Angela Messer, Executive Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton and Lynn Terwoerds, Executive Director of the Executive Women’s Forum. Thought leadership partners for the event are Alta Associates, the leading executive search firm specializing in cybersecurity, Booz Allen Hamilton and Microsoft.

The EWF Cybersecurity Women on Capitol Hill Symposium seeks to raise awareness of the substantial talent and domain expertise of EWF members so they may serve as subject matter resources when members are drafting legislation, holding hearings and otherwise developing policies that concern cybersecurity or risk management. The event also provides an opportunity for policymakers and their staff to hear executive women’s perspectives on issues pertinent to the cybersecurity of private industry and government.

“The case for gender diversity in business is well established,” said Wafaa Mamilli, CISO of Eli Lilly. “Fifty percent of the world’s population are women, yet in cybersecurity women represent only 11 percent of the workforce, according to a recent EWF study. I see that as both a problem and a missed opportunity; diverse thinking and perspectives improve problem solving in every field.”

“As cybersecurity executives enter the C-suite and impact businesses’ bottom line, the skills and perspectives that women bring to cybersecurity teams are invaluable,” noted Cindy Miceli, Executive Search Director of Alta Associates. “Corporations need to ensure a diverse slate of candidates is considered for every cybersecurity hire—and that’s why I’m proud that last year, Alta Associates filled 40 percent of its executive search assignments with women.”

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