In Praise of Older Women

Presented at Diana Initiative 2017, July 27, 2017, 9:30 p.m. (60 minutes)

Age doesn’t limit us. Gender doesn’t limit us. Sexual orientation doesn’t limit us. People limit us. Older women bring a lot to the InfoSec table. We are crafty, determined, and tend to be very good communicators.

Yet it’s a shame that women, notably young women, are not coming to tech, and especially not to InfoSec. The numbers reflect a hard reality – that attitudes and expectations here are engrained and hard to change. Let's flip a table here. What if some smart, savvy older women, who are done with being disrespected in InfoSec, were to teach you some tricks to defy the obstacles you will encounter? Want to know what us older gals have learned over the years? We are so very delighted to share.

We are talking women who are used to working harder to get what they want, who have cultivated an enviable set of "soft" skills in managing time, people and projects. We bring a wealth of experience, gleaned from careers, education, motherhood – and we apply a broader perspective in our analysis and mitigation of issues in security.

We older gals have figured out how to handle so many issues. Come to this talk to learn our lessons hard fought. What to do with that complete ass at work? We have seen that dude and know how to win him over. What to do about other women undermining you? Yep, we have seen that too and have strategies to offer.

Before you shut that door on us, before you write us off as being to late to play in the game, we have this to say: Why close the door on possibility without even looking to see who is there?

It makes all the difference in the world when just one person believes in you. There is so much talent waiting to be discovered; passion, courage, and strength to back up daring concepts. We need people of courage and conviction more than ever in our security realm, to help us face new waves of threats and attackers.

Per Cheryl: If I had believed what people say, and followed "societal norms" I would have never found my way here, and get to do what I love every single day. I've done my time in the trenches; been told by those I respected that I was inadequate. I've paid the price for following my dreams and being different because I chose to be myself. That's why this matters.

Respect and dignity belong to everyone, and so does that opportunity to become all that you can, and to reach for the brass ring. We need that boldness and vision to lead InfoSec forward as we meet what lies ahead. Only by opening our minds and widening the scope with diversity can we truly enrich the range of security options we need.


  • Kate Brew
    Kate Brew is the Editor in Chief at AlienVault, and an active participant in and supporter of the InfoSec community. She brings over 15 years of experience, sass, and wisdom to bear. She champions newcomers and encourages people within the community to share their ideas in blog posts.
  • Cheryl Biswas / 3ncr1pt3d as Cheryl Biswas
    Cheryl Biswas works as a cybersecurity consultant in a large audit firm. Her fascination with Stuxnet has expanded to APTs, ICS SCADA, mainframes, Threat Intel. She wields her specialized honors degree in political science and ITIL designation as she builds bridges along with security awareness. You’ll find her on Twitter as @3ncr1pt3d.


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