There is no area of society in which women are free of obstacles to their success due to their gender. I am all too familiar with inequity impacting women – including in the military – where I fought to correct the injustices that affected servicewomen. In the past, servicewomen who became pregnant and consequently unable to attend a service school were automatically disqualified from a promotion despite being selected for one.
When I was an Information Technology Specialist in the U.S. Army, I wrote to the president of the United States and Army G-1 every single day for two months until that rule was overturned. Eventually, the policy was corrected to give pregnant servicewomen a waiver and allow them to still get promoted while pregnant, but they must attend the service school after 90 days of coming off of temporary profile after maternity leave was over. After advocating for myself and my fellow servicewomen, I was one of the first females to get promoted to Sergeant (E-5) in my unit under the new rule.
That is just one example of the many hurdles’ women must jump over. There is progress yet to be made for true equity for women in the workplace and the world. Data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows the coronavirus pandemic worsened the participation of women in the labor market, with one million women missing from the workforce compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Nearly one in three unemployed women are not returning to work because they must provide care for a family member. This highlights the disproportionate amount of domestic responsibility that still falls on women. Additionally, going back to a place where you are undervalued, dumped on with more work and less pay all at the same time of being harassed and abused, is not a place to hurry back to.
Even for women with the ability to rejoin the workforce, burnout has sidelined their return. In 2021, one in three women considered leaving or changing careers due to burnout, compared to one in four women in 2020. Workplace culture contributes to this gap. According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, for every 100 men promoted to a managerial position, only 86 women are promoted. For women of color, this impact is even greater – women of color comprise only 4% of C-suite executives. A poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that nearly one-third of women face harassment in the workplace, but more than 60% don’t report it.
The funnel for women in cybersecurity is even narrower, despite the number of cybersecurity positions filled by women in 2021 nearly doubling what it was in 2013. Women account for only slightly more than 35% of graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. That translates to U.S. women making up only 26% of the computer and mathematical operation workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There is a lot to be done to correct this gap and create an even playing field. Coalfire RISE is our initiative to recruit, influence, support and educate women in cybersecurity, and just one way we aim to help girls and women develop interest and pursue careers in the cybersecurity space. Fortunately, there are also many role models who reject the limits placed on them by society because of their gender and push back every day against self-doubt and fear that seeks to limit them from achieving their full potential. We are lucky to have many of them at Coalfire.
In this spotlight series, we will tell some amazing stories of our employees who lead the way in pursuing and accomplishing their goals without hesitation—four of them being recent Gold Globee Winners in the 2022 Globee Women in Business and Professional World Awards. Stay tuned for the next post as we dive into the lives of a tenacious first-generation graduate from a U.S. university who wouldn’t take no for an answer and a passionate media literacy advocate.
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