Women with cybersecurity backgrounds earning seats on corporate boards

Bloomberg Business reports a sudden surge in women, with cybersecurity backgrounds, earning seats on corporate boards.  In early 2015, American International Group Inc. added Linda Mills to its board, attracted partly by her expertise in cybersecurity. In February, Wells Fargo & Co. selected Suzanne Vautrinot for its board for similar reasons. Before that, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. picked Janice Babiak.

Bloomberg analyzed trends from the last five years, as data theft has risen to the top of corporate concerns, and found that 16 of the largest U.S. companies have appointed one or more directors with cybersecurity credentials, 10 of them women.  This strange shift in board demographics has surprised many.

Industry experts believe that this unexpected change is indicative of recent corporate attacks.  “The touchstone was the 2013 breach at Target Corp., where 40 million credit card numbers were stolen in a heist that led to the ouster of CEO Gregg Steinhafel”, said Peter Metzger, vice chairman of DHR International Inc., an executive recruiting firm.

“The exposure of embarrassing personal emails sent by Sony Pictures Entertainment employees, theft of 56 million credit card numbers at Home Depot Inc. and breach into JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s records of 76 million customers and 7 million small businesses have added to the urgency”, he said.

As a result, women with their deep experience, became prime candidates for directorships. This is also a trend that is hitting the C Suite.

Chief information officer jobs are being filled with more women than other executive roles. Bloomberg data shows that about 17 percent of CIOs at companies in the S&P 500 Index are women, compared with 13 percent for chief financial officers. Less than 5 percent of CEOs in the index are women.

While this appears to be good-news for women within these fields, it turns out that the prestige of cyber and technology means that men are now joining the ranks in much greater percentages.  That said, those who are hoping to bring more women into cyber and technology careers say that at least the success of women, like the aforementioned, should play a crucial role by offering models for young women to follow.

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