Hacking the Glass Ceiling

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering to Host 2nd Annual Women’s Career Symposium on Cybersecurity

BROOKLYN, New York—On July 30, dozens of elite cybersecurity professionals and more than 100 students and mid-career hacker-hopefuls will come together at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. But this will not be your brother’s hackathon.  The all-star roster of speakers, many of whom lead cybersecurity teams at some of the world’s leading corporations, including IBM and Intel, will be dominantly female. For the second year, the NYU School of Engineering will host “Career Discovery in Cyber Security: A Women's Symposium,” a full-day educational and networking conference designed to boost the pipeline of women entering careers in computer security.

The conference, which will take place on Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Downtown Brooklyn at the NYU School of Engineering, is one of the only events of its kind targeting women, a group that is vastly underrepresented in a career field that is one of the most crucial and fastest-growing in the country and one of the more lucrative in the sciences.

Attendees will include high school and college students
considering cybersecurity careers, as well as established professionals in fields ranging from management, law and law enforcement, business, and public policy who have an interest in computer security or are pursuing a career change.  A select group of high school students attending the school’s annual cybersecurity summer camps for young women will also attend.

The symposium aims to pull back the curtain on a field that is often shrouded in mystery, revealing the wide range of options available to those interested in cybersecurity, from engineers and software developers to information technology specialists and attorneys. The symposium will provide a strong introduction to the field and its major players by featuring engaging lectures from leading women in the security industry; customized breakout sessions catering to students and early-career and mid-career attendees; and hands-on workshops in fundamental security skills.

Keynote speaker Ioana Badea, director of market trends and product insights at Intel Corporation, will open the conference on the topic, “Design Your Future: Engineer the Possibilities.” She will offer direction, insights, market research, and analytics.

Closing keynote speaker Shelley Westman, vice president-security growth initiatives and chief operating officer-security services at IBM Security, will discuss her non-traditional career path, from lawyer to executive at IBM Security. Westman will talk about her role at IBM Security and what makes working in security so interesting. 

“The demand for well-trained security analysts in virtually every industry is higher than ever, and will continue to increase by 37 percent by 2022,” Westman said. “The opportunity for women to help fill this gap in the workforce is immense, and it’s critical the private sector collaborate with educators to ensure current and future generations of women have the skills necessary to help fight the epidemic of cybercrime.”

“A Day in the Life” sessions offer attendees the opportunity to join small breakout groups led by six outstanding women in security representing companies including Johnson and Johnson, HP, Tumblr, and BAE Systems, as well as the faculties of NYU School of Law and James Madison University. Session leaders will share the details of their paths to a career in cybersecurity and offer a realistic snapshot of their positions.
As in most career fields, connections and mentorship are vital in cybersecurity. Putting an academic spin on speed dating, the symposium will feature an afternoon session of “Speed Mentoring” led by Kelly Elliott, diversity director of women’s programs at Intel Security Group (also parent organization for McAfee). Participants will have the opportunity for quick exchanges with more than a dozen extraordinary security professionals hailing from Etsy, Tumblr, Live Nation, IBM, several divisions of NYU, and others.

Attendees who are entering college or considering an additional degree, or those already in the workforce who wish to expand their security knowledge, may choose to join a series of breakout sessions on Industry and Higher Education Options, led by NYU School of Engineering faculty and a diverse group of women in security from Rakoku Holdings and Intel Security Group.

Nothing conveys the thrills of the cybersecurity field quite like firsthand experience. That’s why head hackers from Etsy and the NYU School of Engineering’s renowned Cyber Security Awareness Week—the largest set of security competitions for students in the world—will conduct a trial-by-fire introduction to digital forensics and network security with a hands-on-training session guaranteed to adrenalize the late-afternoon crowd.
The women’s symposium is a project of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering under the direction of department chair Nasir Memon. “Building the cybersecurity workforce is a national priority, and if we want to attract the best minds to the field, we have to make a concerted effort to bring more women into the fold,” Memon said. “We have been at the forefront of computer security education for more than 15 years, and many of our women students have become security superstars. It’s very powerful to show women considering a security career that there’s a huge range of job options, and that women are succeeding in all of them.”

Attendees can register online and purchase tickets now. Tickets are $75 for professionals, $25 for faculty and $10 for students. To follow the conversation online, visit @nyusymposium.

The NYU School of Engineering was one of the first universities to develop a cybersecurity program, launching its master’s degree in cybersecurity in 1999. It has received all three Center of Excellence designations from the National Security Agency and the United States Cyber Command. Its online cybersecurity program has been honored by the Sloan Consortium as an outstanding graduate online program.