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Women’s History Month Feature Category: Male Ally

Author Sana Fatima

(Content & Marketing Lead - BBWIC Foundation)

 Nathan Chung

Nathan is one of the Top Voice for Neurodiversity in Cybersecurity. He is also among the top 50 Global Neurodiversity Evangelist. Acing accessibility and disability promotion, Nathan stands as a Triple Award Winner. He also hosts a podcast named NeuroSec Podcast and is an ADHD Conference Speaker. 

Read below a conversation between Nathan Chung, our Male Ally, and BBWIC Foundation on what he has to say on supporting women in cybersecurity, being a male ally, and neurodiversity.


How can organizations actively recruit and retain more women in cybersecurity roles? What strategies have been successful?


The percentage of women in cybersecurity has grown over the past few years to 30% according to ISC2 with many amazing organizations such as BBWIC Foundation leading the way. I strongly believe that the key to getting even more women into cybersecurity is through Neurodiversity and accessibility. This is because many women and non-binary people; who have a disability such as Autism, ADHD, Tourette's, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and more are often prevented from entering the workforce due to many organisations not being accessible to them. Organizations can open their doors to Neurodivergent women and non-binary people by providing what they need such as closed captions, the ability to work remotely, flexible work schedules, written instructions, organisation apps, speech apps, noise-cancelling headphones, and more. Studies and thought leaders report that accommodations cost organisations almost nothing and everyone benefits.



As a male ally, how would you ensure that leadership positions are accessible to all, regardless of gender or neurodiversity?


This has been a problem for a long time. First, coaching should be provided to transition people into leadership roles. Second, use surveys and collect data to identify problem areas. Third, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility should be metrics to measure teams and their performance. Finally, make teams flexible and do not impede them with inflexible and archaic working conditions or impossible performance metrics.



How can male allies ensure their language and behaviour promote inclusivity and respect for all team members?


It is a sad reality that women and nonbinary people are often the victims of disrespect, harassment, sexual assault, or even worse. Everyone needs to keep an eye out for bad behaviour, address their own biases, move beyond ancient gender stereotypes, and have the courage to confront injustice and bad behaviour when they happen. Also, executive leaders and managers need to be held accountable when incidents happen and to address the historical grievances women and nonbinary people have to make them feel safe and supported.



What educational programs or mentorship opportunities can male allies support to encourage more women to pursue cybersecurity careers?


To help more women, there should be more efforts to recruit women out of college, provide more internships, and opportunities to learn new skills such as cloud security or AI/ML. Men can also be mentors and supporters. Also, more effort should be placed into eliminating barriers to entry that heavily favour men.



What steps can organizations take to accommodate neurodiverse individuals in cybersecurity roles? How can we create an inclusive workspace for everyone?


First, listen to them. Managers should take the time to understand Neurodiversity, understand the individual needs of their staff, and provide accommodations and help when needed. Second, make their offices and workplaces more accessible by using closed captions, organization apps, etc. Third, provide options to work hybrid or remote.




Interviewed and edited by Dr. Sana Fatima.

(Sana is an advisory board member of the BBWIC Foundation.  A Medical Scientist, a Dental Surgeon, and a writer/editor, Sana is a cybersecurity enthusiast herself.)




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