20 January 2022
By Gal Helemski, Chief Innovation and Product Officer
Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate women and their successes and to advocate for a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. It’s a call to action for accelerating women’s equality while highlighting the social, cultural, political and economic achievements of women everywhere.
While there has been an influx of women pursuing careers in technology, women only make up 11% of the global cybersecurity industry with less than 1% of them in C-suite leadership positions. Taking leadership roles in cybersecurity is important for everyone, but sometimes women don’t view it as an option. I’m proud to be in leadership for a company that now consists of more than 40% of women, and I’m grateful that I’ve showcased that it is possible to succeed as a woman in technology. I hope to encourage more women to pursue careers in cybersecurity.
The theme of this year’s International Womens’ Day is #BreakTheBias, so we asked some of our leaders at PlainID to share their thoughts and advice on navigating the tech industry as women.
“As a woman with an immigrant background, I’m pleased that this year’s theme highlights that discrimination does not have only one layer, but multiple, as women with different ethnic or religious backgrounds are even more likely to be subject to bias and further discrimination.
My advice to women just starting out in their careers is to find your champions: the ones in leadership who support your growth and are stern advocates for you without bias. Make sure to express yourself and ask for honest feedback. That way, you will not let people with bias define how you see your work, your progress or your advancement. Tune out the rest; they do not matter. Most importantly, do not let anyone make you feel like your female colleagues are your competition. Elevate them, and it will elevate you.
Working at PlainID and seeing so many women in tech-heavy roles, especially considering we are still a small company, is slowly changing my own bias about women in tech and the stereotypes set upon us. PlainID is a great example for strong female leadership and I am happy to be part of it.”
“My advice to the next generation of women entering the workforce is to remember that you are as deserving as anyone else, so look at yourself as an equal and you will be treated as such. Be confident, show what you have to contribute and don’t hold back or shy away from opportunities and the rest will fall into place. And if that is still not the case then look for a place that appreciates you regardless of your gender. That’s why I recommend looking for employers that put an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
I was very fortunate to start my own career fresh from university at PlainID, where we had a strong female leader from the very start. That made a big difference for me and my confidence, as I was given the chance to fulfill my potential and was able to learn from the very best in the industry, including getting a close mentorship from company management, mainly Gal. I’ve also been inspired to join an organization in the Israeli government promoting woman leaders in the cybersecurity landscape. It all starts with the leadership and company culture that is being transferred to the employees, and I’m so happy that’s what we have at PlainID.”
“PlainID fosters a culture of ownership and empowerment because we operate under supportive leadership. We have a team of strong women in leadership here at PlainID that echo this sentiment.
One way I’ve seen women experience gender bias throughout my career is what I call ‘leveling up.’ Often women have to go the extra mile to prove themselves capable of doing the workload before receiving a promotion. In contrast, men are given the chance to grow into their roles.
My advice for women seeking to enter the tech field is to focus on showing up by being decisive and seeking out mutual support. Come into meetings with a sense of empowerment, ready to showcase your expertise. Imposter syndrome is a genuine issue, so it’s crucial to continuously remind yourself that you have worked for your accomplishments and that you do deserve the recognition you’ve received.
Finally, be the change you hope to see in the workplace. Lean in to support your fellow female colleagues throughout their careers and seek out mentorships and executive support to set goals, create growth and establish accountability with one another.”
This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, means a great deal to me. I am proud to be part of an organization that see both genders in an equal manner and feel lucky to have the opportunity to promote other women within our company to grow and succeed. PlainID has helped me grow in a professional manner, as well as at a personal level. It has given me a place to move up in the organization based on skills alone.
Every woman has faced gender bias at some level, and I’m fortunate to work in an organization that has no place for that. My advice to women is to stand up for yourselves and insist on getting what you deserve. Equality starts in our own perception -- we should first think and value ourselves as equal and demand as such.”
“From my experience, diversity invariably adds value to an organization. Women bring a different approach and a more empathic vibe, which improves the workplace atmosphere, enhances teamwork and boosts productivity.
For most of my career, I’ve juggled the responsibilities of a demanding job and a young family in a male-dominated work environment. I hope that the new sensibilities can highlight the unique qualities woman bring to the workplace in a more welcoming environment. Hopefully, the next generation of woman leaders will not even question their place at the table.
Working in this dynamic, growing company in the authorization space has offered me the opportunity to be a part of a new and fascinating field, to face challenges and overcome them successfully, and to expand my interpersonal and communication skills by interacting with global customers with varying needs and differing cultural backgrounds.
My advice to women is to believe in yourselves and believe in your capabilities. You have the skills and the intelligence to overcome any challenge, whether technical or interpersonal in the workspace. Your unique approach is an advantage, not a disadvantage.”
“To create an equal workplace, businesses need to hire more women in leadership and create a space for them to speak up. We need to foster a work environment free of gender stereotypes and discrimination to break the bias.
PlainID has allowed me to push myself outside of my comfort zone to explore other aspects of my role with guidance from my managers and peers. Early on in my career, I wasn’t taken seriously. I was given mundane day-to-day tasks such as making coffee, making copies, or ordering lunch until I stepped up and asked someone else to handle it. I then started being more vocal during meetings about my ideas and perspectives. I think many women make the mistake of staying quiet and are too intimidated to speak up when they have a lot to contribute. Making sure your voice is heard is one of the best ways to increase visibility and build repertoire.
My biggest piece of advice for women entering the technology space is to be confident in yourself and to know what you bring to the table. Speak up and contribute your ideas to show your value and build mutual respect with your team.”
While there is still progress to be made, women are making great strides in the technology industry. I’m so proud that PlainID is helping lead the way for women in cybersecurity, and I am honored to be part of a leadership team that is dedicated to fostering a culture of free of bias where women can grow and thrive in their careers.
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