As a first generation American, I am used to the generalized opinions of others. Striving to support me through tough times, my parents remind me how fortunate I am to live in a country of opportunity. Back in Iran, where they were born, the citizens are isolated from the outside world. This unfortunately prevents them from fulfilling their potential in life. Acknowledging this reality, my parents were determined to find a new way of life despite the unknown world that awaited them and they set out for the United States where they contemplated providing their children with the education they always dreamed of.
From my parents’ perspective, a successful career was defined as becoming a doctor or a lawyer; Therefore, my parents were in for a shock when I announced my desire to major in technology. Observing my love for learning computers and knowing that in high school I was crowned with “tech girl” as a nickname, my parents eventually understood that this was my true dream and there was no turning back for me.
My journey truly started in Touro College as a computer science major where I learned how to code. While coding was a huge step in my education and development, I felt that there was another facet to technology to which I had not yet been exposed. I expressed these feelings to one of my professors, who advised me to look into the IT degree which offers a better focus on computer security. I was warned that I would probably be the only female in that program due to the male dominance and interest in that field. This professor believed in my technical potential, and she encouraged me to pursue my dream despite society’s stereotypes about differential gender capabilities. I clearly remember her saying, “You can do it just as any man can!!”
At first, it was daunting to enter a field with such a low percentage of women. Most of my friends barely knew what IT or IS stood for. As I excelled through college and self-study, I found that the more people underestimated my ability simply because of my gender, the more I became encouraged to work harder and to show them how truly capable I am.
It pains me to see many young women immediately dismiss this path solely due to their gender. When Magda Chelly, Ph.D, CISSP introduced the new initiative to promote women in the cyber world, I was beyond ecstatic. The posts, articles and her successful role in cyber security inspire thousands of women across the globe to be a part of the revolution. Women can finally experience that boost of encouragement and energy to appreciate the powerful impact they can make in this world through cyber security.
Currently, I am interning at the NYC Department of Finance in cyber security. The various opportunities awaiting me down the road would never exist had I not followed my dream and taken the technical path. Technical literacy has no correlation with gender. Rather, it is simply based on one’s determination. Thanks to Women in Cybersecurity (WICYS), I have firm support and belief in myself and in my career. There are no limitations to the success that I can achieve in this burgeoning field. Technology was, is and will always be one of my strong passions in life.
Article written by Avital Kohen
Franziska Bühler currently works as a Senior Systems Engineer in Switzerland.
Her main areas of responsibility are web server security and everything related to the access layer. In Switzerland, this typically includes authentication and web application firewalls.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a specialization in IT security. She is also a Certified OSSTMM Professional Security Tester (OPST), accredited by ISECOM (Institute for Security and Open Methodologies).