Celebrating IWD 2021 with #ChooseToChallenge

Looking back over the past week, we have been fortunate to launch the Women4Cyber Luxembourg Chapter as part of the Women Cyber Force association, geared to promote, encourage and support the participation of women in the field of cybersecurity.

For International Women’s Day, we were joined by Women4Cyber ​​Serbia Chapter, François Thill, Director of Cyber ​​Security for the Ministry of Economy in Luxembourg, and Tatjana Matić, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications for Serbia, all choosing to challenge against gender bias and inequality.

Inspiration was easy to come by from the start of the event, our keynote speaker, François Thill, Director of Cybersecurity for Ministry of Economy Luxembourg, addressed the public with some crucial points, “Excellency, ladies, and gentlemen…On this day we remember that equality between women and men has yet not been achieved.…” He further continued into the core of our reason for existence of the W4C Luxembourg Chapter, “Women and men in all countries should have equal rights and equal duties. Actually, every human being should be treated with due respect. This also means that everyone should be able to freely choose a role in the society they hold onto, without having to fight stereotypes and prejudice.. The Ministry of Economic Affairs warmly welcomes your initiative. Your association represents a visible step capable to actively change the traditional states of mind and transforming stereotypes that have been causing inequalities and injustices for ages. Some of which are largely responsible for the skills shortages in STEM professions and also in cybersecurity.”

During the opening remarks, Women4Cyber Luxembourg President, Jelena Zelenovic Matone, echoed the need for female inclusion as a critical aspect for securing the future, “We would all agree that internet use is one of the most critical global economic development and international security factors. Hence, we could then easily say that this calls for a unanimous agreement on the need for more international cooperation to increase stability and security in cyberspace. As our global economy and society continue to grow, our collective efforts to secure our digital infrastructure and safeguard our cyberspace will be crucial. I view Cyberspace as the global transformer of how business is run today; it makes, alters, or breaks some ideas. Still, I wholeheartedly believe that it needs female cybersecurity professionals to add value to creative juices during the decision-making process.”

Perhaps a little shocking was when asked about the challenges in recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups, especially women in cybersecurity careers, Christophe Bianco, Managing Director of Excellium said: “I spent more money for recruitment, than I spent on attracting clients.” Women4Cyber Luxembourg will continue to choose to challenge, by helping women in cybersecurity build skill and confidence to be represented in the labour market.

Krystina Gray, the Vice President of WCF/W4C further elaborated on the certifications or courses necessary to be successful in the IT security field. Calling out highly regarded and well rounded certifications such as the CISSP and CISA, but emphasising that professional development is not limited: “[…] completing certifications does help provide us with opportunities in the job market, but it also provides us with professional development and growth[…]” “[…] we also cannot forget about the women that have gone through their educations and that have had careers in the past, they have a wealth of unique experience that can come to the field, whether it is through a career change and provide value from their own experiences as well, and certifications can give them that opportunity too.”

It is clear that diversity matters and that value is gained from each persons experiences. When asked to elaborate more on her company’s major cyberattack last year and how she sees diversity mattered in such crisis, Edith Magyarics, CEO of Victor Buck Services said
“In a crisis situation you always need to have women and men in the team as you need the different approaches to resolve the situation”.

Sheila Becker, the Vice President of WCF/W4C brought great points on the matter of building confidence, as this is crucial to empower women, as often women are more critical to themselves than men are. Hence, WCF/W4C needs to spread the word to gain attraction from women interested in the field. Sheila also stressed the need to reach out to not only women, as mentors, but it is also important to find men that support our initiative, because our overall objective is inclusiveness.

Women4Cyber Luxembourg are established as part of the Women4Cyber Foundation launched by the European Cyber Security Organisation. The importance of equal inclusion of women in cybersecurity and opportunities for the development of women’s careers is essential to our mission.

Excitedly, we also announced the joint organisation of Women4Cyber Hackathon for students from Luxembourg and Serbia, which will be realised in cooperation with the private sector, the state, and universities to strengthen the equal involvement of future generations of young “tech” leaders in cybersecurity. Stay posted for more details!

Inclusion matters and we are looking for members who are choosing to challenge with us. All interested individuals, companies and organisations who would like to join the W4C Luxembourg & Women Cyber Force Association and would like to get involved in this and future activities are invited to apply either via our website or by sending us an email to info@womencyberforce.lu.