Inside Hadrian

3 mins

Empowering Women in Cybersecurity: An Interview with Anique Lodewijkx

As the world celebrates International Women's Day, it's essential to spotlight the voices and experiences of women in the cybersecurity industry. Anique, a trailblazer in her field, shares her journey, insights, and aspirations for a more inclusive future in cybersecurity.

What was your path into the industry? What inspired you to pursue a career in cybersecurity?

When I was eighteen years old, a career in the tech industry wasn’t something I had ever considered pursuing and wasn’t even in my periphery. During an open day at the university, I planned to attend, I was about ready to leave when my mom dragged me into a lecture about the artificial intelligence program. I had always been a few years ahead in math at school but I had no understanding or connection with computer science. The lecture was led by the first women I had seen presenting all day, and they were incredibly well-spoken and passionate about their field. An hour later I decided to study artificial intelligence, and three years later I graduated from the same program.

Women held 25 percent of cybersecurity jobs globally in 2022, up from 20 percent in 2019 and around 10 percent in 2013, with Cybersecurity Ventures predicting an increase to 30 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2031. Have you noticed any shifts or improvements in gender diversity and inclusion within the industry in recent years?

One of the most positive shifts I have noticed in recent years is the willingness to discuss the inequalities between genders in the workplace in a way that is positive and constructive. I think it takes time for people to acclimate to ideas of social inequality in their environment, and it has been a pleasure to see men also addressing these issues unprompted.

I’ve noticed an increase in the number of women who pursue degrees in computer science and engineering over the last three years, but I think the industry will need time to catch up. This is especially true for leadership positions in cybersecurity. I’m positive that as more incredible women enter the field and as women already in the field continue to excel, this too will change. 

How can we encourage more young women to pursue careers in cybersecurity? What advice would you give to other women considering entering the field?

As a young woman, it is difficult to imagine your role in an environment where no one looks like you. I think it would be really powerful to give young women more role models who work in quantitative fields and to shift the stereotype away from being so male-dominated. We also need to start educating young people about computer science, a field which is so rapidly growing, and yet I did not know of it when I left high school.

The advice I would give to young women is to find role models. I distinctly remember attending a small event with a female speaker when I was twenty, who shared her experiences working in tech, particularly in a majority-male environment. Her encouragement breathed life into me in a way I didn't realize I needed.

Additionally, it's essential not to undersell yourself. Sometimes, you may pick up on silent judgments from others that make you feel small. Remember, you are equally intelligent and capable as anyone else in cybersecurity, and confidence is a skill that can be practiced. Men often apply for jobs when they meet less than half of the requirements listed, whereas women tend to apply only when they meet all the requirements. Knowing these differences has helped me pursue opportunities I might otherwise have missed.

How do you think organizations like Hadrian can further support and empower women in cybersecurity roles?

I believe organizations like Hadrian can play a crucial role in reshaping the narrative by championing women, particularly those in technical positions, and amplifying their voices. This includes educating colleagues on recognizing workplace discrimination, evaluating the attractiveness of the work environment for potential female colleagues, equipping women in leadership roles with the necessary tools for success, and ensuring equality in salary across different roles and genders.

Lastly, how do you envision the future of cybersecurity, and what role do you believe women will play in shaping it?

More women entering the cybersecurity space is a positive force towards diversity of all kinds, and that goes beyond gender. In a male-majority environment, there are inherently methods and industry standards that developed from a singular perspective, and I think it will be a positive thing for the field to get a “fresh” perspective.

In celebrating International Women's Day, Anique's insights remind us of the importance of empowering women in cybersecurity and striving for a more inclusive future in the industry.

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