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What International Women’s Day Means to Me

Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a global day for championing the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Also known as IWD, this holiday has been recognized around the world for more than a century. For me, it is a time to reflect on progress in gender equality from an overall societal perspective, as well as my own role as a female professional, a cybersecurity executive and a mother of two daughters.

From a societal perspective

In 2022, there were several defining moments in the strive for gender equality. As outlined recently by BBC News, women in many countries (including the US) had to fight for even the most basic rights last year amid war, violence, and policy changes. Despite these setbacks, there are positive milestones to celebrate:

  • For the first time in history, women CEOs now run more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies.
  • Data from the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Index shows that the global average share of women in ministerial positions nearly doubled between 2006 and 2022, increasing from 9.9% to 16.1%.
  • In November 2022, the European Parliament passed a law after a 10-year battle to ensure more women are represented on publicly traded companies' boards by July 2026.
  • The International Olympic Committee reported the most gender-balanced Winter Games with women making up 45% of athletes at Beijing 2022.

As a female leader in cybersecurity

According to the Aspen Digital Tech Policy hub’s latest report, women comprise only 24% of the cybersecurity workforce, with a small fraction in executive roles. As Chief Product Officer at Trellix, I oversee a global organization with more than 1500 people, which makes me part of that small fraction. I know what it is like to be one of the only women at the table. Like most women executives, I have experienced firsthand the challenges that come with being a female leader. Despite the hurdles I have faced in my career and in some cases, because of them, I love what I do, and firmly believe and have seen firsthand that diverse teams produce better results.

Cybersecurity is a unique landscape where along with the large variety of roles, skillsets and experience, there is a constant need for talent and diverse perspectives. Diverse perspectives are not just desired, they are required for an organization to stay ahead.

I am proud to be on the leadership team of a company that embodies these principles. Commitment to diversity and inclusion at Trellix comes from the top, with our CEO, Bryan Palma. This commitment is every day, in all the decisions we make, from how we run meetings to how we source feedback. At his mainstage keynote "Soulless to Soulful: Security’s Chance to Save Tech,” at RSA 2022—one of the largest cybersecurity industry conferences—Bryan called on the industry to do better when it comes to recruiting women and diverse talent.

He also used the opportunity to announce the launch of Soulful Work, an initiative focused on encouraging and attracting professionals with non-traditional career pathways into roles in cybersecurity. Through Soulful Work, Trellix partners with schools and nonprofits to build a pipeline of young talent in cybersecurity. One of our partnerships is with Gotara, a global career growth platform for women in STEM+.

Gotara's STAR Programs covers mentoring, upskilling, and are designed to advance the careers of an estimated 30 million women worldwide. I have been fortunate to have had several meetings with Gotara and other Soulful Work partners. I have seen the positive impact these organizations have had on our industry, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to further advance our mission.

As the mother of two daughters

On this International Women’s Day, I am also reflecting on my position as the mother of two daughters who will be entering the workforce in a few years. One is a senior in high school and the other is a sophomore in college. They are both well informed and very aware of everything around them. Personally, I would like to ensure that the path for both, and all other young women, into STEM careers is intuitive and attractive. Both of my daughters have expressed interest in pursuing careers in STEM, which makes me happy.

While there is still a long way to go toward achieving gender equality, I am encouraged that more women are entering STEM fields today than when I was starting my career, which means my daughters will face better odds than I did at their ages. (According to the US Census Bureau, the percentage of women in STEM grew from 8% in 1970 to 27% in 2019).

Regardless of which career paths my daughters pursue, I am grateful they will have the freedom to choose. Their freedom is in large part because of the many brave women before them who have forged change, and companies like Trellix who continue to champion women’s success. As a result, I am confident my daughters, along with other women will no longer be in the minority at the table and have thriving careers.

Resources and ways to celebrate & give

Register for the IWD Community
Learn how organizations support women
Download the IWD Lean In resources
Watch the IWD videos
Create IWD social media cards
Access IWD LinkedIn Learning resources
Women in Cybersecurity

What International Women’s Day Means to Me
Me with the Trellix Women’s Voice Employee Resource Group at the Trellix Bangalore office.

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