26 Nov 2019
OPENING REMARKS BY SMS SIM ANN, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, AT LAUNCH OF AISP’S LADIES IN CYBER MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME ON 26 NOVEMBER 2019 AT ENSIGN INFOSECURITY
“Inspiring Youth towards a Cybersecurity Career“
Dr Steven Wong, President of AiSP,
Ms Diana Tan, Executive Vice President of Ensign InfoSecurity,
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good morning. We should give our heartfelt thanks to Dr Steven Wong for giving us such a passionate speech from the heart. Whenever we have events, particularly industry events, where we encourage more women to enter a particular sector, it is important not just for women to support each other but also to take time to thank the men who are very supportive of women, and I think Dr Steven Wong is one of them.
2. Thank you for inviting me to the launch of AiSP’s ‘Ladies in Cyber’ mentorship programme.
Importance of Women in the Digital Revolution
3. As all of you know, we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Technologies are rapidly advancing in many fields, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things, and quantum computing, just to name a few. The confluence of these technological advances are transforming every aspect of our lives and society. In some cases, they blur the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds.
4. Digitalisation holds the promise of greater convenience, broader participation and better services for all. Yet, at the same time, we must ensure we invest in cybersecurity to create a resilient and secure cyber-environment. We must also pay attention to digital inclusion to ensure that all will benefit from this technological revolution. This includes the users of new digital technologies as well as the people working to transform our lives and society digitally.
5. However, around the world, we know there is under-representation of women in tech. Estimates of the proportion of women in cybersecurity range from as low as about a tenth to a quarter of the global cybersecurity workforce. This needs to change for a few reasons.
6. First, we are facing a shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide. According to the ISC2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2019, there is an estimated global shortage of 4 million cybersecurity professionals. 2.6 million of these jobs are estimated to be in the Asia-Pacific region. This shortfall has been growing. We should therefore strive to maximise the potential of our entire population - this includes our women - to fill these places.
7. Second, cybersecurity is inter-disciplinary at the individual level and multi-disciplinary at the team level. We therefore need to bring together teams of people with varied and diverse experiences to tackle cybersecurity challenges effectively. Cybersecurity jobs include roles like network security engineers, threat intelligence analysts, threat response engineers, and cybersecurity architects. There are also many cybersecurity jobs that require non-technical skills, such as cyber diplomacy and manpower development. Given the diverse skillsets needed for us to develop cybersecurity, it would be a waste to only tap on the talent of half our population.
8. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a career in cybersecurity can be a rewarding one for both men and women, and perhaps, especially for women. The very nature of the field lends itself to flexible working arrangements which many people seek - and which many women rely on - in their quest to balance career and family responsibilities. This is why I hope that for many women, cybersecurity will prove to be a field in which they can excel in as full-time or part-time workers, and one that can provide them with careers with stability, longevity as well as flexibility.
Power of Mentoring
9. We know that career choices are complex, and quite often, they are shaped by face-to-face advice and role models. That is why community mentoring programmes, like this AiSP Ladies in Cyber Mentorship Programme, are so important. Hearing first-hand from experienced women professionals is a very good first step for many of you here today who are considering a career in cybersecurity.
10. To the young mentees in the room, having a mentor is a useful resource for you to tap on to as you seek answers to questions that cannot be easily found at career fairs or from recruitment advertisements.
11. For the mentors in the room, I want to thank you for stepping up and helping to guide younger women into the cybersecurity field. Your willingness to share experience and give encouragement could inspire many young minds and make a big difference to female representation in the sector.
12. Community partners, like AiSP, are essential to these efforts to encourage greater workforce participation in the cybersecurity industry.
13. Let me commend AiSP on their efforts so far. For example, today’s event is part of AiSP’s Ladies in Cyber initiative. The Ladies in Cyber group was formed as an interest group less than a year ago . Despite this short time, they have conducted cybersecurity career and basic cyber hygiene talks and meetups have reached out to more than 2,500 girls and women. So, I think that the future is bright for this interest group, and I am more than happy to continue supporting your efforts. Let me encourage AiSP to continue to build on such efforts and let me thank you and wish everybody a wonderful day ahead.
14. Thank you.