Women in cyber security: Dawn of a new era
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Women in cyber security: Dawn of a new era
  • Jung Yu-kyung, Kim So-jung and two others
  • 승인 2019.10.05 19:01
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By Jung Yu-kyung, Kim So-jung, Joe Hee-young, Park Ju-won
Created by Joe Hee-young.
Created by Joe Hee-young.

 

From fintech to national intelligence, cyber security has successfully seeped into every aspect of modern life. The digitization of finance, personal data, and other confidential information as well as national-level data have made it ever more necessary to rear a new generation of cyber security experts. As with other areas of science and technology, cyber security has also been predominantly led by male educators and experts. Nonetheless, women’s universities, female-friendly companies and national agencies are facilitating the entry of females into the industry. Ewha Voice took this opportunity to visit several significant sites where female talent is making results and changing the industry. The first is Ewha’s Department of Cyber Security itself, which trains future leaders in a tight-knit community of 30 students per grade. Professor Ahn Hye-yeon, who currently heads WISET, was also previously a professor at the department. Given the scarcity of female experts in the area, they often meet up for networking and educational purposes, by hosting frequent seminars.

Introducing Department of Cyber Security at Ewha

Following the current shift of using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an integral part of many process related tasks, computer security has also become a crucial factor.

Recently, diverse convergent industries related to ICT has expanded resulting in risks in cyber space along with an increase in economic and social confusion. However, there is a shortage of well-educated professionals in this area, specifically, females.

To resolve this issue, Ewha has established the Department of Cyber Security in 2017, aiming to provide systematic training through theories and application based on computer science.

The educational goals and visions of the Department of Cyber Security include developing professionals with creativity that can proactively solve problems, becoming international leaders in the information age with competitiveness, and learning moral and social responsibility.

The school also provides a curriculum where students can take custom learning courses according to their levels. The courses are divided into four main categories: theory and practice, projects, creative convergence, and industrial focused.

“During their freshman and sophomore years, students study about the key elements of computer science, such as programming, processing technical data, analyzing database and so on,” explained professor Do In-shil from the Department of Cyber Security. “Then they step into full-fledged education on security during their last two years.”

Although some may think that the career paths are somewhat limited, there are various jobs related to cyber security. These include security developers, malware security professionals, consultants, and more.

“The biggest advantage of our department is that students have the opportunity to learn and try out various tools related to software and hardware,” Do said. “In this way students can be fully prepared when they are out in the field.”

IT experts encourage cyber security career

To encourage people who aim to work in the cyber security industry WISET, has hosted “Women in Cyber” seminar on Sept. 17. Four keynote addresses were held. each delivering different messages in an attempt to encourage women to pursue a career in cyber security.

The seminar began with Chairman Ahn Hye-yeon’s introduction keynote address. With a summary on diverse cyber security relevant careers and the joint effort of the government and WISET on supporting women workforce, the chairman encouraged the audience on joining the field of cyber security. 

Chairman of National Security Research Cho Hyun-sook, continued the seminar denoting the importance of cyber security in the persepctive of diplomacy. Cho shared her hopes of students becoming professionals of cyber security and leading a better Korea. 

Professor Lee Hyang-sook of Department of Mathematics provided a high-level explanation of cryptography of cyber security and specified the upcoming changes with the possibilities of quantum computing.

Wenting Chiu stressed the attitude to learn while walking through her own career and providing analysis of increasing cyber security women workforce in and out of Korea.

After all keynote addresses, a panel discussion took place with more cyber security professionals. Kim In-soon from ETnews guided the discussion with hand-in questions from the audience. Upon nurturing leadership, Yoon Hye-jung from Interpark accentuated the importance of acquiring professionalism.

Regarding the worries of a non-computer science majoring student, Im Soo-jin from KT informed that most corporations undergo education for the newly accepted employees. Quantitative information concerning the number of women in the workforce at each corporations and the intensity of work was narrated as well. The panels informed the audience corporations are putting in efforts for the work-life balance of the employees. For instance, Lee Dong-ryun shared that public institution such as KISA has a well built-in maternity leave for all gender.

Chairman Ahn Hye-yeon says one’s work life is not an option that can be eliminated by the responsibilities of being a part of a family.  Photo by Heo Sol.
Chairman Ahn Hye-yeon says one’s work life is not an option that can be eliminated by the responsibilities of being a part of a family. Photo by Heo Sol.

Ahn Hye-yeon of WISET emphasizes women workforce in cyber security

Ahn Hye-yeon, the chairman of WISET considers empowering  female workforce in the field of cyber security as an important issue. Her assertion is that the very thought of the public regarding women laborers as someone we need to “help” is wrong. 

“There is a program called “Global Standard” in WISET,” Ahn said. “In this program, we garner the statistics on foreign companies which invest on female labor education and make valid data that can be used for standards in Korean companies.”

Ahn gave the example of IBM and how they have specific regulations on the ratio of female workers as well as board members. She is planning to present the organized data to Korean companies since they lack regulations on hiring women. Ahn also found complacency on female recruitment in Korean companies as problematic.

“Even Samsung SDS, which is known to have high female workforce ratios, only maintains 10 percent of their boarding members as women,” Ahn remarked. “However, they think it is enough. This complacent thought can only be revised by introducing a “Global Standard” and making that statistic as the standard number of female workers.”

Ahn also has plans for the younger female generation. Programs to help educate science for students for all ages are underway. Free online leadership education programs opened, and technical education programs will soon start next year.

Ahn, sharing hope that more students dive into the field without fear, preceded explanation of cyber security. 

“Security has a  unique characteristic that it is easier to become a professional,” Ahn said.

She further explained that in other fields, people who we call professionals have spent years researching the same subject. However, as security is part of all new technology on the horizon, people need to be one step ahead. Ahn pointed out, while also mentioning that such characteristics is what had fascinated her.

“I want to appeal that security is not formidable,” Ahn said.

Furthermore, she pointed out how work for women cannot be an option and how the right schema of family can support the idea.

“In our country, there is this prejudice that wives should sacrifice for men. Children succeed that and also consider their mother  as somebody that is obliged to sacrifice for them,” Ahn said.

She continued, “But sacrifice is not something natural. A mother has her life. Family simply helps each other in intimate affection.”

Ahn explained that she feels repentance whenever she sees women limit themselves upon what people tell them.

“When I was working at a software development research center, it was really rare to see a woman apply for our work. I had a chance to talk with students who were majoring in computer science and engineering to ask why they would not choose to  be a software developer,” Ahn said. The feedbacks mostly consisted of how other people advised against them for being a woman.

“Recently, I have heard a lecture that proves social impact has more relevance with  people believing women are unfit for math and science,” Ahn began. She preceded “I wish more students and workers discard the belief that they are not capable enough to do software engineering or developing and give it a try.”


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