Microsoft backs new Northern Ireland initiative to tackle gender diversity gap in cyber security
A rapidly expanding cross-sector initiative, aimed at improving gender diversity in one of the country’s fastest growing but least diverse tech sectors, has welcomed the global technology leader Microsoft as its latest high-profile industry partner. The “Empowering Women to Lead Cyber Security – Northern Ireland” programme has been designed with the goal of developing a sustainable community of emerging female leaders in cyber security and information governance roles across Northern Ireland and is being supported by government and industry bodies including techUK and the Northern Ireland Cyber Security Centre.
The initiative was initially launched last year in Scotland and its success there has led to new regional programmes being introduced across the UK, with the latest of these being the dedicated programme for female cyber security professionals in Northern Ireland, which will run between September and November.
Each of the regional leadership programmes brings together up to twenty cyber security and information management professionals, who are selected from an open application process to take part in a unique, three-month leadership development programme which combines in-person group workshops, dedicated one-to-one coaching, industry-leader guest speakers and culminates in a group project, where the participants present to an audience of industry peers. All places on the programme are free of charge to participants, with the funding provided by a combination of government and industry partners, including Microsoft.
The cohort will meet for the first time in Belfast on the 21st – 22nd of September for the first of their in-person group workshops, where they will take part in two days of intensive individual and group development work, as well as having the opportunity to hear from established senior leaders in the sector, who share their personal leadership journey with the group. These guest speakers are often a highlight of the experience and the Autumn programme begins with a trans-Atlantic focus as Microsoft’s own Kozeta Garrett, Security Business Lead for the Americas, will be joining the group from Washington. Ms Garrett will be sharing some of the key lessons that she has learned over the past twenty years of working on large, complex security programs for clients ranging from financial services and healthcare to local government and defence.
Commenting on why Microsoft had taken the decision to support the initiative, Kieran McCorry, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Ireland said: “Microsoft Ireland is delighted to support the Empowering Women to Lead Cyber Security programme in Northern Ireland. At Microsoft, we’re committed to helping people to achieve more, and for us, this includes empowering the next generation of digital leaders. Cyber security continues to play an increasingly important role in the future of all organisations, and this initiative not only supports gender diversity in a rapidly growing sector, but also supports emerging female business leaders in this space.”
The techUK Podcast Episode 6 - Skills, Talent and Diversity in Tech
This podcast explores the importance of skills in creating a thriving tech sector in the UK. Sarah Atkinson, Global Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Micro Focus and former chair of the Skills & Diversity Council talks about the variety of ways tech skills can be taught, while work experience student Abi Pearson interviews techUK President Jacqueline de Rojas CBE on what the barriers are to women entering the tech sector and how we can create more inclusive workplaces.