The modern field of cybersecurity would not exist without the work of women, people of color, and other thought leaders from underrepresented communities. Many of our nation’s first computer programmers were women, working as “code girls” in WW2, including women of color. Alan Turing famously contributed to breaking the Nazis’ cryptography before being prosecuted for his homosexuality. In short, since the early 1940s, a diverse group of people helped build the computer systems and networks that are the cornerstone of today’s society.
However, these historic contributions from underrepresented communities aren’t evident if you look at many of the events and panels on cybersecurity policy in Washington D.C. and beyond. These debates are critical to shaping policy, but also in determining what issues are and are not discussed. This lack of diversity hinders our nation’s political discourse, by limiting the number and types of voices shaping policy, and hampers our nation’s security as a result.
Cybersecurity is a global problem that necessitates wide ranging dialogues with experts of all backgrounds, nationalities, and career paths. Our field, and the representation of it in public events, needs to be as diverse as the problems we are trying to solve. Building on the great work of others in this space, we are urging concrete action to step away from the staid policy debates of the past and move deliberately into the future.
With history as background, we, the undersigned, starting today, pledge that we will increase the diversity of speakers and experts at events within and/or funded by our programs and organizations. For panels consisting of 3 or more speakers, inclusive of moderators, we pledge to recruit and include at least one woman or member of an underrepresented community (e.g. LGTBQIA, BIPOC, LatinX, Hispanic, people with disabilities) to add value to our learning and viewpoints that are not adequately represented within the cybersecurity field. For our conference partners, we pledge to consider both the representation at the individual panel level as well as the conference speakers and keynote speakers as a whole, to create a holistically representative atmosphere at our events.
Diversity is security. In support of #ShareTheMicInCyber’s movement to eradicate systemic racism in the cyber industry we pledge to make that a reality with this actionable step. While ensuring diversity on our panels and at our conferences is a small step, it will hopefully contribute to a broader recognition that diversity, equity, and inclusion, are critical to society’s broader economic development, well-being and security.
This pledge is just the first step in the ongoing dialogue necessary to create a culture that seeks to nurture talent, elevate a diversity of ideas and individuals, and enhance the scholarship within the cybersecurity policy space. Including a broader array of voices in these discussions will not only improve the debate, but also encourage a diverse pool of people to join cybersecurity and help ensure cybersecurity policy accurately reflects the perspectives and concerns of society at large.