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Women leaders in security recognized

Joan Goodchild | May 7, 2013
Thoughts and reflections from the 2012 EWF Women of Influence winners

Each year, the Executive Women's Forum announces their "Women of Influence" Awards at their annual EWF event.

The awards, co-presented by Alta Associates and CSO Magazine, recognize outstanding women in several categories: one winner from the public sector, a private solutions provider from the security industry, a corporate practitioner from the private sector, and a "One to Watch," a future leader in the security field. This year, a lifetime achievement award was also given. The winners were nominated by peers in the security community.

CSO asked each winner of the 2012 WOI awards to give us their perspective on their success, lessons learned in their careers -- and how women are making their mark in the security industry today.

Here is a list of the winners, and their thoughts and advice for career success.

One To Watch: Claire McDonough

Claire McDonough is an Engineering Manager in the Security Operations team at Google. Throughout her 5 years at Google she has worked in various parts of the security team as a technical program manager, focused on a broad set of projects from pre-launch security product reviews to security strategy, vulnerability management and now as an engineering manager on client platform hardening, network perimeter security and machine identity. Claire manages a team of security engineers who focus on innovation in enterprise security and developing solutions that make it easy for people to work securely.

How are women making inroads in security professions today? What more needs to be done?

Encourage women at the beginning of their careers and highlight inspiring role models to demonstrate what is possible.

EWF has partnered with the Information Networking Institute (INI) and Carnegie Mellon CyLab to offer a full tuition scholarship for their Master of Science in Information Security Technology and Management (MSISTM) program. I think programs like these are invaluable for encouraging women to pursue a career in information security. Though still a small number, there were more women than ever before in my undergraduate degree in Information and Communications Technology. Even so, very few of them chose to pursue a career in computer science, due in part to the fact that most didn't have role models to show them their options. The women who receive the EWF scholarship discovery an amazing array of possibilities when they attend the EWF conference, and suddenly anything seems possible. I think providing mentorhsip is a great method to encourage more women to stick with computer science.

Provide an inclusive atmosphere and celebrate diversity.

There has been a lot of research that demonstrates that diversity of thought leads to better group performance. One of my favorite studies on this topic is one referenced in this Harvard Business Review discussion where the finding was that while there's little correlation between a groups collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members, the collective intelligence of a group rises when you include more women. Women frequently have better social sensitivity than men, and groups function better with the ability to listen to one another's ideas, criticize constructively and maintain open minds. Recognizing the importance of these skills in a successful organization and celebrating the different strengths women bring is essential to enabling more women to have successful careers in information security today.


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