Five ways women can thrive in cyber careers, according to the first UNODC Women in Cyber Summit

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Bangkok (Thailand), 28 October 2022 – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Programme on Cybrecrime organized its first Women in Cyber Summit in Bangkok. Over 40 female professionals working in cyber field from Southeast Asia and Africa spent three days connecting expertise, exchanging knowledge, and empowering the roles and leadership of women.

Designed to reduce the gender gap in the cyber domain, participants were encouraged to build a community of inspiring women professionals and to provide mentorship programmes for women in cyber professions to become more skilled and qualified.  The highlights of the Summit was the identification of five ways women can continue thriving in cyber careers.

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#1: Seek and provide mentorship

Technology evolves rapidly, and so do criminal tactics in cybersecurity. New problems, issues, and concerns have emerged and challenged professionals in the field. It is evident why the needs to foster and develop new skills and knowledge is of critical importance. One effective approach to counter this challenge is mentorship. Mentorship enables a person’s professional and personal development. All participants were introduced to the concept and benefits of mentorship and encouraged to seek out and provide mentoring to fellow professionals.

#2: Start with education for girls

Education is a solid starting point for any profession. It equips students with technical and intellectual capacities to carry out expected responsibilities. Currently, the gap in education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) between boys and girls is disproportionately wide. As a result, it is estimated that women make up less than 30% of the STEM workforce, including cyber. Panelists and participants agreed that this systematic and male-dominated issue can be addressed with increased access to STEM education for girls.

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#3: Say YES to networking and collaboration

Networking facilitates the exchange of information and ideas. New developments and trends in cybercrime and cybersecurity are vibrant and everchanging. One can never know everything about everything. Sharing information through networking can enhance a career in cyber, especially for female professionals. Many opportunities that could lead to meaningful collaboration can be introduced and pursued. Participants were encouraged to connect with other talents of diverse expertise to upscale the impact of their work.

#4: Say NO to stereotypes

A series of discussions during the Summit revealed that women have been underestimated, patronized, and even harassed in the workplace at some points in their careers. There should be zero tolerance for such incidents. It is critical that such misconceptions be challenged, addressed, and tackled with confidence. Women must firmly stand their ground regarding their contributions to the field.

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#5: Amplify your successes using digital tools and platforms

It is important to embrace digital communication technology and platforms, on top of traditional media, to expand reach and engagement. Public information campaigns and educational materials, particularly on cybersecurity and countering cybercrime, should amplify the roles and successes of women behind the scenes.

At the end of the Summit, all female participants reflected on the best practices and lessons learned from the sessions, and presented their individual action plan for moving forward.

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The Women in Cyber Summit was hosted in the framework of the project “Strengthening the role of women to counter cybercrime in Southeast Asia”, funded by the Government of Japan.