Closing the Cyber Gender Gap

Highlighting the critical gender gap in cybersecurity, the Geena Davis Institute's event, supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, called for urgent, diverse workforce development to fill 600,000+ roles.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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On January 31, 2023, the Geena Davis Institute, in partnership with Craig Newmark Philanthropies, hosted a virtual event titled "Closing the Cyber Gender Gap". The salon focused on the underrepresentation of women and girls in the cybersecurity sector, despite women constituting 51% of the global population. With over 600,000 open positions in cybersecurity, the discussion emphasized the urgent need for a diverse workforce.

Madeline Di Nonno, President and CEO of the Geena Davis Institute, moderated the event, introducing speakers and leading discussions. The event kicked off with opening remarks from Geena Davis, who highlighted the institute's commitment to gender parity in media and its impact on societal roles, including cybersecurity careers.

Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, shared insights on his philanthropic efforts in cybersecurity and the importance of building a resilient cyber civil defense. The keynote presentation by Kiersten Todt, Chief of Staff at CISA, outlined strategic initiatives to enhance national cybersecurity resilience and the critical role of diversity in achieving this goal.

Panelists Tennisha Martin (Founder and Executive Director, Black Girls Hack), Meridith Maskara (CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater New York), Justin Price (Director of Partnerships and Special Initiatives, National Cybersecurity Alliance), and Nicole Tisdale (Senior Advisor for Cyber Workforce and Education, Aspen Digital, The Aspen Institute) engaged in a robust discussion. They explored barriers to entry for women in cybersecurity, strategies to 'demystify' the field, and the importance of early education in fostering interest and competence in cyber disciplines.

The conversation also ventured into how media and entertainment can influence perceptions and inspire participation in cybersecurity. Panelists called for the elimination of stereotypes, like the hooded male hacker, and advocated for a more inclusive representation of cybersecurity professionals in media to reflect the diverse reality of the sector.

The event concluded with a Q&A session, allowing the audience to delve deeper into the discussed topics. Closing remarks by Madeline Di Nonno underscored the collective effort required to bridge the gender gap in cybersecurity and the pivotal role of media in shaping future generations' aspirations and perceptions of the cyber realm.

This salon not only shed light on the current state of gender diversity in cybersecurity but also sparked a vital conversation on actionable steps and collaborative efforts needed to cultivate an inclusive and secure digital future.

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Geena Davis, Founder and Chair, Geena Davis Institute