As an example of creative thinking in promoting inclusion, I would like to highlight John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, a thoroughly modern Victorian, educated by his mother until the age of 12. He was ridiculed by society for his progressive views in paying great attention to the education of his daughters as well as his sons. Considered the richest man of his time, his hobby was building the finest fairy tale castles. He also built a magnificent building for the medical school at the University of St Andrews and endowed the Bute Chair of Medicine. When the male anatomy lecturer refused to teach women, he simply hired a woman as an additional lecturer, to teach any students who wished to learn with her. In this way, he managed to provide an environment in which women and men could train alongside one another, without coming into conflict with the existing hierarchy. Perhaps surprisingly, we still have lessons to learn from his approach.
I recently received an enquiry regarding opportunities for girls considering a career in cybersecurity, which presented a real dilemma: cyber is a great place to work and women have a real contribution to make but they are still something of a rarity. Indeed, I had recently heard of a team where there were six times as many men named Andrew as there were women, until the only woman left. For any young person with talent and enthusiasm, cybersecurity presents a remarkable opportunity. It provides a level of challenge and variety which is rare in other professions. It is essential to invest in the next generation, in order to build a community that is representative of the population it serves.
There are those who would say that men are part of the problem and others who would say that women are part of the problem. They are, of course, both right. Some time ago, I was introduced to a young woman who, on hearing that I work in IT, said simply, “somebody has to”. With assistive technology being adopted in so many different fields, now almost everybody has to, to a greater or lesser extent. It may not involve programming, or laying cables, but a willingness to engage with IT is essential for careers as diverse as fashion, journalism and medicine.
Having grown up in an era when many areas were still closed to women, including the fire service, most of the military and some of the most prestigious university colleges, I never take equality for granted. It is reassuring to see that most educational establishments these days tend to be co-educational, providing an ideal environment for talent to thrive. Having switched from a girls’ convent to a boy’s preparatory school at a formative point in my life, I had been rather shocked to be confronted by one of the younger boys in the class, complaining: “You’ve stolen my form prize, you’re not even that clever, you just work hard!”. Meanwhile, his father thanked me for presenting his talented son with a new challenge.
I have spent a great deal of time in the company of privacy professionals. Broadly, they tend to come from either a technical or a legal background. Even in this context, as a female from a technical background, I have a certain novelty value. One of the most inspiring leaders in this field is Ann Cavoukian, who has been a champion for Privacy Enhancing Technologies for over 25 years. Her pioneering work on Privacy by Design has been widely adopted globally, ensuring that privacy requirements are addressed at the earliest stages in the planning of systems. Privacy is, of course, an essential element of Identity Governance, one of Consult Hyperion’s key Live 5 topics for 2021.
Historically, women have played a crucial role in the development of computing, including such eminent figures as Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. There will always be a place for people of different backgrounds to bring their own unique contribution to the industry. We must appreciate the progress that we have all made, while recognising that it will take a joint effort to make some areas, including cybersecurity, a more welcoming environment for young women. This need is widely recognised by men as much as women and many positive initiatives are already in place to achieve this goal.