On 8 March, we celebrate International Women’s Day to showcase our commitment to women’s equality, celebrate achievements, and raise awareness. This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias which highlights the importance of collectively calling out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping when we see it.
We caught up with Phoebe who joined 6point6 in 2021 following a graduate scheme at a cyber security consultancy. As a cyber assurance manager, Phoebe supports businesses and projects through discovery, development and launch by providing security assurance.
How did you get into the cyber security industry?
A career in cyber security is one that I stumbled upon inadvertently. A job in this field is not something that I knew existed as someone who did not like computer games or considered myself a ‘techie’.
When I finished my Law degree, I did not feel the standard legal route was for me. But, I knew I enjoyed the political, compliance and advisory aspects of law. Craving the need to widen my knowledge, I undertook a Masters in International Law where I studied International Security Law and the Law of Armed Conflict. This sparked my interest in cyber, and I completed my thesis on the applicability of the laws of war to the cyber domain. Essentially, I looked at whether the laws that were created for ‘physical’ war applied to cyber-attacks between countries.
As a woman, how do you feel working in Cyber?
It is empowering, varied and challenging.
Cyber security is a fast-paced environment and the continuous technology developments mean there is always an opportunity to learn and develop professionally. This is one of the main reasons I joined 6point6. The learning and support opportunities that 6point6 provides are incredible. I know exactly what I need to achieve to progress my career and acquire new skills.
Why do you think there is such a gender disparity in cyber security?
Perception and a stereotypical view of technology are key factors leading to the lack of women in cyber security, which I think go hand-in-hand. A career in this field is often not considered as an option for women. I believe this is due to a warped view that cyber security is purely technical and consists largely of hackers and/or computer science graduates. Although this accounts for some areas, there is a much wider aspect of cyber security that does not require a technical background.
There is also the view that you have to study computers to work in cyber security. This is not an accurate representation as my colleagues come from different educational backgrounds. With the industry constantly evolving, and the opportunities for on-the-job learning continuing to progress, you can learn everything you need to know to be successful in your career.
What are the challenges facing women in cyber security?
It is an industry that is developing in terms of gender equality, many companies and individuals are still learning and changing. As my colleague, Amelia Hewitt said, “the work done by women within security to vocalise our views and express the necessary changes required is exceptional, and every day, I see progress being made to ensure that every individual feels welcome.”
It can be intimidating in a male-dominated field. As a woman in cyber security, it can often feel like there is an added requirement to be confident and demand respect in the work environment.
To be successful as a woman in cyber security, you must face those who make assumptions based on gender and fight for your position against the inevitable presence of those who do not think women belong in technology. However, I believe this perception is changing – the more women that enter the field, the more this view alters.
What have you learned from being a woman in cyber security?
It is not all about Call of Duty, black hoodies, and dark computer rooms
Finally, what is your advice for women looking to go into cyber security?
Go for it! The beauty of cyber is that it is still developing so there is a demand for a wide range of roles across all industries. Financial services, recruitment, retail, transport – they all require cyber security. There is an extensive list of jobs within cyber itself, from sales to project management, marketing, policy and analytics. Research, ask questions and network. The prospects are endless and there is always an opportunity to learn, develop and progress.
Interested in a career at 6point6? Explore our current opportunities.