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IWD 2024: How taking centre stage professionally encourages other women in ICT to do the same
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

Becoming more visible can inspire others to push themselves forward, too.

Imposter syndrome, anyone? Doubting one’s own abilities and feeling like a fraud is a well-known phenomenon in the professional world. 

From my observations, it’s quite prevalent in the technology sphere, where the gender imbalance remains stubbornly high.

It’s part of the reason far too many women avoid public speaking, instead opting to cede the floor to others or to hang back when leaders are looking for someone to take centre stage.

I’m happy to confess that I felt a degree of diffidence the first time I was called upon by my then-boss, who encouraged me to present on behalf of our company at an industry seminar. 

Others had been at the company for longer than I and were more qualified in the cyber-security space…thus ran my internal monologue for a brief time before I resolved to make as good a go of it as possible.

Yes, I was anxious about how it would go, and I worried afterwards that I could have done better. My confidence deficit made the positive feedback I received from members of the audience doubly welcome and extremely encouraging.

Going outside your comfort zone

The good news is, it was easier the second time and easier again the third. It was at that point I started to appreciate the fact that if an opportunity has been offered to you, it’s generally because the people who are giving it believe you can do it and do it well.

Cue the disappearance of my self-doubt. It was replaced by a resolution to back myself to the hilt from thereon in.

These days, I present in public regularly at industry, partner and customer cybersecurity events, and I feel confident in doing so.

That’s because I’ve allowed myself to have sufficient experience as well as the confidence to believe I know what I’m talking about

Taking centre stage in a man’s world

Typically, my audience will be comprised of either IT professionals or businesses owners. More often than not, it’s a sea of men, with the occasional female face dotted about.

That’s a reflection of the fact that women remain a significant minority, in the leadership ranks of the business world in general, and across the board in the cybersecurity space.

Aside from the professional and personal satisfaction of speaking in front of a crowd, that gender disparity is part of the reason I believe it’s important for women like me who work in IT to avail ourselves of every opportunity to increase our profiles and visibility.

Showing the next generation what’s possible

There’s an oft-quoted saying that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. In industries like IT that are heavily male-dominated – women hold less than a third of the jobs in the Australian IT sector, according to 2021 research by the Australian Computer Society – early career women aren’t always spoilt for female role models. 

The dearth of women in more senior roles can make it difficult for new starters to see career paths for themselves or to envisage themselves taking on positions that entail greater responsibility and challenge.

Actually seeing women taking centre stage, giving presentations and representing their organisations, as I now do whenever I get the chance, shows those coming up behind what’s possible.

Our industry offers an abundance of opportunities for women who want to build rewarding, well-paid careers.

Being publicly visible and making our voices heard is a great way for those of us who’ve enjoyed the benefits to inspire others to explore the possibilities. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of welcoming more women into our sector.