The shortage of Cybersecurity workers is a global issue with millions of jobs unfilled. Worst yet, the percentage of women working in Cybersecurity is only about 10% according to a report from ISC2. Jane Frankland’s new book, In Security, offers practical tips and advice for women looking to work in Cybersecurity, for women already in Cybersecurity, and for men and women who want to help fix the gender gap.
IN Security is significant since it is one of the few books on the subject of women in Cybersecurity and perhaps the first book to attack the subject head on with such passion from an author showing great dedication to the cause. Part autobiography, part research study, part career guide, there is a lot of material condensed into a single book. The book takes a deep dive and shows many disturbing trends, statistics, and issues. It is clear that the gender gap is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in schools, with parents, in the media, and in the industry.
Jane Franklin is spot on that in Cybersecurity, there are very few women role models depicted in TV and movies, which instead is dominated by men. She did miss one detail when discussing the James Bond movie “GoldenEye”. She mentions the Russian hacker portrayed by Alan Cumming, but failed to point out that at the film’s climax, that hacker’s coworker who happens to be a woman portrayed by Izabella Scorupco, manages to thwart the bad guys by changing the access codes to the system. Even after mocking her, the hacker was unable to break her codes to regain system access. Films such as “GoldenEye” that depict women in such a strong role should be highlighted and there should be more of them.
The book does an amazing job pointing out that there are countless heroines in history. Some examples: the women who helped to decipher enemy codes during World War 2, the women who were crucial in helping NASA’s space program as depicted in the film “Hidden Figures”, the women who helped to invent new technology that led to wifi, and the list goes on and on. This brings up an essential point, that when looking for women role models, instead of looking at our present, we need to dive into our past filled with rich history of amazing women.
The book also mentions the advantages of workplace flexibility. I do agree with Jane Franklin that this is vital especially for parents. Unfortunately, the book fails to mention the growing list of large companies that have reduced or eliminated this option: Yahoo, IBM, Aetna, Bank of America, and more. Suggestions for working with management to obtain workplace flexibility is needed.
There are many shockers in the book as well. Biggest one for me is how much men can help. One assumes that the best person to speak to young girls in schools about careers in Cybersecurity would be a woman, not always true. It points out that sometimes a man can reach out in ways that a woman cannot. Further, the book cites many examples where men can and have made a big difference in the lives and careers of many women, including the author.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest obstacles for women working in tech is hardly mentioned in the book, sexual harassment. There are only 1.5 pages devoted to the subject. While in the past several months, the floodgates have burst in Silicon Valley. There’s Susan Fowler’s blog post about Uber, Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against her venture capital employer, and more. Since sexual harassment is a serious issue today for women, there should be more information to help them should it occur.
Another area that the book neglects to mention are the recent laws enacted by a growing number of states and cities within the United States that ban employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. Advocates have pushed for such laws citing that salary history has been used as a tool to discriminate against women and pay them less than men. It is hoped that these new laws will help to reduce the gender pay gap.
The ultimate treasure of the book is Jane Frankland’s story. As an autobiography, it is a powerful narrative of a successful award-winning woman entrepreneur. A single mom with kids struggling to build a business while making a difference in the world. She shares her successes and failures showing both vulnerability and strength. Many women will read Jane Frankland’s book and will be able to identify with her struggles as many face similar bumps in the road of life. In Security is highly recommended not just to women, but to men who want to make a difference.
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