IGF 2019 WS #339 Women in Cybersecurity: Advancing a Multistakeholder View

Organizer 1: Louise Marie Hurel, Igarapé Institute
Organizer 2: Stephanie Itimi, Seidea

Speaker 1: Stephanie Itimi, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Leonie Maria Tanczer, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Daniela Schnidrig, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Policy Question(s): 

How can cooperation and collaboration on national, regional and global levels help to increase the number of women in cybersecurity?
What are the best practices and/or lessons learned from the public and private sector?

Relevance to Theme: The current challenges and cybersecurity skills gap has reached almost all main international media headlines. In face of a dynamic threat landscape populated by sensors, devices, AI bias, and others, both public and private sector face increasing challenges in addressing cybersecurity issues at the technical and political levels. Job openings on cybersecurity are on the rise, but the question remains as to whether:
(i) current workforce is prepared to address current threat vectors and actors,
(ii) industry and government have realistic expectations of job postings, and
(iii) sectors are ready to address biases in culture and education.

Diversity in the cybersecurity workforce goes well beyond tracking statistics and numbers, it is a prerequisite to better identifying, assessing, and responding to threats at the national, regional and international level. Having women in cybersecurity with different backgrounds is a key component to the cyber readiness of companies, academia, governments and civil society organizations alike.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The roundtable creates awareness on cybersecurity as well discussion how women can access to the internet to gain information and improve their employability. Most importantly, it highlights an important (and perhaps still underexplored) intersection between the themes discussed in the previous BPF Gender and Access (security of women and young women online) and the BPF on Cybersecurity (cybersecurity culture). This proposal is also in line with IGFs agenda on inclusivity and governance, as by women learning more about cybersecurity they will inevitably understand the full realisation of their rights on the Internet. This is a challenge that cuts across different stakeholder groups and the IGF is a unique space for promoting a multistakeholder dialogue on this topic. Furthermore, a discussion on the changing nature of work, skills, capacities, equality of access, and gender equality is a core element to the development of effective practices to ensure that operators, incident responders, policy-makers are ready to address and maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet.


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Description: Women have always been at the forefront of cyber security and computing. From Ada Lovelace to Margaret Hamilton, history is filled with women who have contributed hugely to the progression of technology. However, at present only around 10% of the industry is female so attracting more women into cyber roles is incredibly important to us to increase diversity.

The roundtable discussion would follow this order:

Why do you think that there are such low numbers of women in cybersecurity?
What are the current barriers facing women in obtaining careers in cybersecurity?
On a regional level, what can be done to increase the awareness of cyber security among women?
What type of private-public partnerships is needed to not only increase awareness levels but also the amount of women who obtain jobs within the sector?
What are the lessons that can be learned from the global community? If so, what global level engagement can be obtained to increase the number of women in cybersecurity?

Expected Outcomes: We are aiming to achieve, at least, three key takeaways from this discussion:
- Map already existing capacity building initiatives and voicing experiences of women in cybersecurity careers.
- Identify what kinds of national, regional and global collaboration is needed to get more women in cybersecurity (and how can sectors better collaborate to achieve this?)
- Gather specific input on how a multistakeholder forum such as the IGF could better include and approach this agenda in the following years.

Onsite Moderator: 

Louise Marie Hurel, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator: 

Stephanie Itimi, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Louise Marie Hurel, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Discussion Facilitation: 

To avoid that the roundtable format turns into a panel, both participants and guest speakers will be challenges to objectively respond to the policy questions outlined in this proposal. With a strong yet dynamic moderation, audience will have a designated amount of time to also provide their perspectives on the questions as well as respond to the views of the speakers. Moreover, we might consider using platforms such as AnswerGarden or interactive polls to have both onsite and remote participants express their opinions.

Online Participation: 

We will promote in social media platforms and inform potential online participants of the possibility along with instructions on how the panel will work. As we progress, we would nudge online participants to share their own experiences on the theme -- reading them as we go through the panel.


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities