Throwback to CyberJutsu Interview
We met with the CEO of the Women’s Society of CyberJutsu (WSC), Mari Galloway, back in October 2021 for Cyber Security Awareness Month. Mari took us through the founding of CyberJutsu and how people of any background can get into the world of cyber security! In case you missed it, or want to revisit the INE Live session again, we’ve included summaries of some questions and answers below.
How did your journey with WSC come to be and evolve?
Galloway started with the WSC after sitting in on a study group session and began speaking with the group founder, Lisa. Eventually, Lisa suggested Galloway join the board because she liked her attitude and mindset. After joining, Galloway initially handled background responsibilities, but when Lisa stepped down from her role as the CEO in 2018, Galloway knew she wanted to keep Lisa’s vision alive and stepped up to the plate as COO. She learned a lot about her own leadership style and started to really build a network. All while remaining a volunteer, saying, “I do like to volunteer and help others reach their potential and figure out what it is that they want to do.”
What are common trends within the cyber industry as it relates to women?
When asked this question, Galloway said, “we’re starting to see the mentality of ‘women shouldn’t be in the working or technical spaces’ change. Companies are becoming more aware of this change and making an effort to bring more women into these technical positions.” She furthered her point by saying “Behavioral changes and changes in mindsets take time, but they’re a necessary step towards progress and innovation. It can’t just be viewed as meeting a quota.” WSC has more than 3,400 members, to which Galloway said, “that tells me women want to be in cyber security. The excuse that women aren’t interested isn’t accurate.” The WSC is giving women an opportunity to develop and utilize their skills in an effort to contribute to the shift in behaviors and expectations for women in the industry. This is just the starting point though, and as Galloway said, “we are all working to let women have a seat at the table so we can hear what they have to say.”
What were some of the biggest challenges related to being a female in cyber?
One of the first things Galloway faced when she entered the cyber security field was she was the only female as well as a minority. Not only that, but at first, she didn’t have the technical expertise to execute for the position she wanted and was told, “to be a secretary essentially.” She took it as a learning experience and ended up realizing this was an issue across the industry, though it took time to be able to see the problem and work to change it.
What advice would you give to women who are trying to break into the cyber space?
Put simply, don’t take no as an answer. Galloway said, “you’re going to hear no, and maybe hear no a lot, before you hear a yes. It’s important to network and keep your skills up-to-date. Just don’t take no for an answer.” She went on to emphasize the point that giving up doesn’t work in the world of cyber security. Sometimes that will mean getting out of your comfort zone and applying to everything you can, even if you don’t meet 100% of the listed requirements. Show that you’re willing to work and learn.
How can men be allies for women in cyber security?
Men make up the majority of the cyber security field, so in order for them to be allies to women, they need to be willing to support and mentor them. In Galloway’s experience, she mentioned that she has a lot of “mentors [who] are guys because they’re in positions I want to get to.” Listening and speaking up for women in the cyber space is important because it can lead to questions that matter for the field and the women working to improve the industry. It helps, and shows more dedication to the cause of supporting women when men ask what they can do to approach the situation as well.
How can you improve leadership skills in cyber?
Galloway said, “I always like to tell people to build a roadmap.” Like any career development journey, having a roadmap helps you identify milestones and progress points to help you get where you want to go. Research, volunteer work, talking to a mentor, and applying for smaller leadership roles in projects are crucial in developing those skills. It takes being open to stretch your own responsibilities and put your desire for growth out in the open.
How can others get involved with the Women's Society of CyberJutsu?
WSC has a number of workshops available for people to join and learn more about cyber security every year. These workshops provide opportunities for people to learn about and develop their skills in cyber security. There are also plenty of opportunities for volunteers to help with workshops and other events. Some events also have opportunities for speakers, and teaching opportunities come available throughout the year.
We were thrilled to have hosted such an influential leader from the Women’s Society of CyberJutsu. Galloway had a lot of great insights for the current state of cyber security and advice, so if you want to hear more from the interview, check out the INE Live recording and visit the WSC website to see how you can be more involved!
Mari is the CEO and a founding board member of the Women’s Society of CyberJutsu. She has spent decades in the cyber security space, starting in the Department of Homeland Security. As a technical expert, she holds many technical and management certifications (CISSP, GIAC, CCNA, etc) as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Columbus State University and a Master of Science in Information Systems from Strayer University. Her recent activities outside of public speaking and career work, she recently contributed to a book that was published, 97 Things Every Information Security Professional Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts.
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