The lack of tech knowledge should not stop women from pursuing a career in cybersecurity, according to the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the organisation tasked with pushing forward Malaysia’s digital economy.
“We have to stress that some of the women who’ve found their way into the cybersecurity field through our career comeback programme were not from a tech background,” says Datuk Ng Wan Peng, MDEC chief operating officer.
MDEC’s Empowering Women in Cyber Risk Management programme, launched last year, aims to help women make a successful career comeback and attract a higher pay from a new role in cybersecurity.
Thirty women have undergone the three-month course which was conducted with industry partners such as CIMB, PwC Malaysia, Cisco Systems and Asia Cybersecurity Exchange.
This year the aim is to attract 100 applicants, says Ng, adding that the focus now is to get more companies to open up opportunities for women.
It’s also essential to promote workforce diversity to counter today’s complex cybersecurity challenges.
“Women could have different skill sets that could be useful in the cybersecurity field,” she says.
“We are doing a lot more programmes to encourage inclusivity. We are also putting in a lot more effort to encourage girls to take up subjects like coding,” says Ng.
Sime Darby Plantation, which produces and distributes agricultural products, also feels innovation requires teams with a range of skills, viewpoints and creative thinking.
“It is important that women fill those roles at all levels to bring the diversity necessary for high performing teams and successful innovation,” says its head of biotech and breeding, Dr David Ross Appleton.
“Encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and enabling them to do so is the foundation of having diversity in the workforce.”
The Sime Darby Plantation biotechnology and breeding research and development team comprises 140 scientists, of which 52% are women.
Some, like Julia Ibrahim, head of industrial microbiology unit at the Sime Darby Technology Centre, feel that today there are more and better opportunities for women in the science field.
“I think there are more women working as microbiologists in Malaysia because we have more patience,” she says.
She also encourages women interested in the field to pursue Masters, saying that if they decide to do it, they must complete it, otherwise they “don’t have the patience for this field”.
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