Closing the Gap Women Veterans > Cybersecurity Careers

A One-Day Virtual Conference - May 25, 2021
Tue, 25 May, 2021 12:00pm
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About the Closing the Gap Initiative

Background     |     Conference Agenda     |     Resources     |     Advisory Board     |     Continue the Conversation 

Watch the video - 14 minutes with 6 women veterans.

Closing the Gap: A DoD Conference on Re-entry for Women Veterans into Cybersecurity Careers addresses two crucial needs: To fill the exponentially growing cybersecurity talent gap in the U.S., and to harness the potential of female U.S. veterans to fill the gap.

The conference was specifically targeted to researchers, educators and decision-makers from academia, government and industry, focusing on issues and practices for smoothing the reentry for women veterans into the workforce, specifically in cybersecurity careers. Women veterans were also encouraged to participate.

As we brought together a diversity of knowledgeable advisors on these issues, we highlighted the critical topics and challenges that must be addressed, along with a compilation of resources. The challenges are many and varied, from difficulties in filling cybersecurity jobs, to gender pay disparities, to why women veterans may struggle in transitioning to a civilian environment, as well as seeking and finding meaningful employment.

The aim of the conference was to help women veterans:

  • Leverage prior knowledge in order to enter or return to cybersecurity fields 
  • Move from the military to non-military environments, including addressing issues of gender inequality and sexism in the workplace 
  • Fit into White Collar, Blue Collar, or New Collar jobs (new work paradigms that are changing models of the workplace)  

In addition to the one-day working conference, Closing the Gap includes a robust set of resources:

  • Assembled experts in the field, focusing on their personal assessment of why the gap still exists, and what they might do differently hearing from other experts in the room
  • The explicit inclusion of gender-based approaches to both establish a network of professionals and academics, and to hone specific strategies for implementation of a reentry plan for women veterans
  • A post-conference Summary, to include resources, references, findings, recommendations and action steps
  • Accessible website repository of resources and materials

View the conference resources here.

The Department of Defense awarded a grant to The George Washington University Centers for Cyber Security and Privacy Research (CSPRI) and Women in Engineering (WiE), in order to address these challenges. 

The organizers assembled an Advisory Board to assist with topic focus, speaker selection, and ways to produce meaningful actions both during the conference and beyond. A video compilation of Women Veterans' Voices highlighted a range of challenges and pathways that women take in transitioning from military service to a technical, and in some cases, cybersecurity, career in the civilian workforce.

Interested in Joining the Conversation?

The Closing the Gap Conference that took place on May 25 was an interactive conversation amongst industry, academia, military and intermediary organization representatives, as well as women veterans. To join the conversation as act upon insights and recommendations from the conference discussions, please submit your application below.

Join the Conversation - Complete this Form

Conference Agenda

Download Conference Agenda here.

The day-long virtual conference, planned for May 25, 2021, began by setting the stage through a video compilation of women veteran describing their experience and perspectives on the subject of transitioning from the military to the cybersecurity civilian workforce. 

The four-part agenda brought together stakeholders to engage in an interactive conversation. Each part begins with a "Fireside Chat" with distinguished experts, after which conference attendees will join Breakout Rooms to discuss the topics. Once reassembled in general session, the Breakout Room leaders will summarize conclusions for general discussion.

Part 1: Challenges from a Woman's Perspective

  • Fireside chat: Interview with women veterans
    • Intended to help the audience understand the issues; frame the task ahead of us for the multiple stakeholders.
    • Stereotyping persists, yet women in the military have advantages to be explored, identified and highlighted.
  • Breakouts: Discussion on challenges
    • From veterans' perspectives; 
    • From industry cybersecurity hiring perspective
    • From government cybersecurity hiring perspective
    • From military and related organization perspective

Part 2: Transition from Military to Non-Military

  • Fireside chat: Discussion with experts
    • The transition may be challenging. No more stripes; people do not "obey"; loss of the nurturing environment and sense of being taken care of
    • What is currently working to help women transition?
    • What needs improvement
  • Breakouts: What is needed to collectively address the gaps (focus on women).

Part 3: Cybersecurity Pathways

  • Fireside chat: Discussion with military cyber skills expert, a cybersecurity recruiter, and academic admissions officer
    • Cybersecurity topics and technologies are always changing; learning paths are diverse; recruiters must adapt
    • Discuss skills needed for industry or academic journey, options for entry-level, how to transition from military skills to civilian, challenges involved.
    • Explore academic vs. certificate paths to cybersecurity careers
  • Breakouts: What is needed to address the issues?

Part 4: Organizing for the Future

  • Summarizing what we have heard
  • Inviting discussion
  • Going forward: Who wants to be involved?

Conference Organizers

The Conference is jointly organized by the GW Centers for Cyber Security and Privacy Research Institute (CSPRI) and Women in Engineering (WiE). Advisors with expertise in veterans' affairs, the military, cybersecurity and academia are assisting with the development of Conference programming and resources.

Project Directors and Grant Principal Investigators

Shelly Heller, PhD
Director, GW SEAS Center for Women in Engineering (WiE), GW

Costis Toregas, PhD
Director, GW Cyber Security and Privacy Research Institute (CSPRI), GW

Project and Conference Administration

Taly Walsh
Assistant Director, GW SEAS Center for Women in Engineering (WiE)

Callie Balut
Student Communications & Marketing Specialist III, GW

Carly Jordan, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology


Taly Walsh
[email protected]

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