TTU computer science organizes national women in cybersecurity conference

Women in Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing fields globally. From 2007 to 2013, cybersecurity job postings increased 74 percent.

While half of the United States' workforce are women, women represent less than 15 percent of the cybersecurity workforce.

To help to meet that need, one Tennessee Tech University computer science associate professor is organizing a conference to bring together industry professionals and higher education faculty and students.

“This conference is to help to recruit and retain aspiring women in cybersecurity, and advance their careers in this field,” said Ambareen Siraj, founder and chair of the Women in Cybersecurity conference. “Cybersecurity is a growing field and increasing the participation of women and minority groups is absolutely critical to bridge existing gaps and help the workforce to perform better.”

By 2022, approximately 300,000 software development and programming jobs will be added to the economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Women make up about a quarter of the workforce, and adding diversity is a key goal of many academics and other professionals nationally.

Siraj secured funding from the National Science Foundation to pilot the effort and Facebook has since become a strategic partner. Last year, the response from participants was so strong that Siraj kept registration open until the fire codes of the conference space forced her to stop. An event planned for 100 people ballooned to 350.

This year, the conference will be held March 27-28 in Atlanta. Five hundred representatives from more than 200 organizations will attend, including higher education institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The conference will include different sessions for higher education, industry and research, as well as technical presentations, student research sessions and panels. Students will be able to attend a career and graduate school fair as well.

Keynote speakers include Jennifer Henley, Facebook’s director of security operations; Phyllis Schneck, the Department of Homeland Security’s deputy under-secretary for cybersecurity; Angela McKay, Microsoft’s director of cybersecurity policy and strategy; and Sherri Ramsay, CEO of CyberPoint.