The regional telecommunications sector is being challenged to increase gender diversity, especially as it relates to cyber security and cyber threats.
The call comes from Janelle Pascall, senior manager for communications at C&W Communications and chair of the CANTO Women in ICT Committee.
“Including women and under-represented individuals in cybersecurity is not only an ethical imperative, but also a strategic advantage. Within the field of cybersecurity itself, we face a shortage of experts, further exacerbated by a gender gap,” she said.
Pascall was speaking as part of a panel discussion entitled ‘The Importance of Gender Diversity in Cybersecurity’ at CANTO’s recent 38th Annual Trade and Exhibition Conference in Miami, Florida.
“Women remain vastly under-represented, comprising only a small fraction of the cybersecurity workforce. This gender disparity not only limits opportunities for talented individuals, but also hinders our collective ability to address the multifaceted challenges of cyber threats,” added Pascal.
The panel also included insights from Kamla Hamilton, manager of security at C&W Business; Dr Kim Mallalieu, senior lecturer at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, and deputy chair at the Telecommunication Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT); Shakera Rolle, director of information security at Cable Bahamas; and Korah-Jane Jude Grant, director of business development and culture at Symptai.
The panellists convened to explore the intersection of gender and cybersecurity, revealling the risks of excluding women in this critical field and offering vital insights for organisations and governments to bridge the gender gap.
“As the Caribbean navigates the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape, it is imperative that organisations and governments seize the opportunity to promote gender diversity. By fostering an inclusive environment, providing mentorship, and training, and advocating for curriculum reform, we can unlock the potential of women in cybersecurity and ensure a safer, more resilient future for the region,” said Hamilton.
Dr Mallalieu shed light on the disparities evident within STEM disciplines.
“Data in hand shows that women equal or outperform men in IT and computer science, as well as in pure and applied mathematics at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination. Yet, women are in a significant minority in related STEM disciplines at the university level and even more so in the workplace throughout the Caribbean,” she said.
To help bridge the gap, the panellists said all sectors of the technology ecosystem have a role to play including governments, Internet service providers, regulators, and suppliers. For these groups, the panellist urged stakeholders to focus on mentorship, training, curriculum reform, and culture shifts, including unlearning existing heteronormative societal stereotypes as vital strategies to bridge the gender gap.
During the conference, the vice president of People at C&W Communications, Dom Boon, also gave a presentation to regional government representatives discussing the company’s efforts to transform its internal culture to achieve gender parity.
“We are proud to acknowledge that presently 49 per cent of our people managers are female, due in part to our dedication to developing trust-based and human-centred policies for our employees. We look forward to continuing to support and increase the number of women at all levels of leadership, fostering their professional growth, and providing opportunities for collaboration and information sharing through our Employee Resource Groups,” he said.