Women and cybersecurity in Scotland: Chelsea Sievewright interview

| Nov 22, 2016

Chelsea Sievewright was one of the finalists in the recent PwC-sponsored Scottish Cyber Awards and the Outstanding Women in Cyber category. She recently discussed with PwC what the apppeal of cyber security was and what advice she would give to others looking to work in the field.

What got you into cybersecurity? 

"A huge leap of faith and encouragement from my mum landed me in the cyber security field. I had a moment after high school where I had to seriously re-evaluate where I was going career wise.  I knew I wanted to use my skills to study a degree with a purpose so I searched university course lists and found Abertay's Ethical Hacking degree.  I loved the sound of it, it was relevant to industry and would give me a clear career path so I applied.  It was a huge leap of faith, but one that really paid off!"

What has been your biggest challenge? 

"Believing in my own ability to succeed in the IT field has been my biggest challenge. Starting a career in IT is daunting as a fresh-faced university graduate, coupled with being a woman in a male dominated field, I was very far from my comfort zone. However, I've found the cyber security community to be unbelievably supportive and I've had some brilliant mentors throughout my time as a student and now while working in industry."

Bringing more women into IT and cyber

Should the IT industry be doing more to encourage more females into IT and cyber security? 

"There are lots of groups and networks for women who are already working in STEM or studying STEM subjects, but we need to be focussing on schools. As professionals in IT, we should all be investing in our field by taking time to encourage primary and secondary students to consider IT as a career, while also challenging the IT stereotype. The gender gap in IT stems from schools, so if we invest time and resource into that area now, hopefully the gender gap will not exist in 10-15 years time."

What's the best tips you could give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps? 

"Don't let stereotypes or judgement hinder you from achieving what you want to achieve. Ask what you think might be silly questions, reach out to subject matter experts, get yourself a mentor and absorb all the wonderful knowledge these people will share with you."

What's your top tips for companies and people to improve their cyber security efforts? Companies need to invest in their people. Security awareness is so vital for threat mitigation, therefore, companies should work hard to develop exciting and engaging security awareness training while also helping to build good relationships between the security team and other areas of the business. Also, invest in the future. Invest time in engaging kids in cyber security. We need a continual stream of passionate cyber security professionals entering the field (and in large volumes), so invest some time in local primary and high schools.

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