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University Community Celebrates Women in Cybersecurity
As part of its Cyber Legends web series, the University hosted a discussion with three female technology leaders who shared their experiences in the field and imparted their wisdom on the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
November 20, 2020
By Sarah Kispert '22
The University of New Haven community recently came together for the second installment of its Cyber Legends Series, which celebrated women in cybersecurity. The event featured Marene Allison, global CISO of Johnson & Johnson; Marci McCarthy, CEO and president of T.E.N. and ISEⓇ Talent; and Patricia Titus, CISO and chief privacy officer for Markel Corporation. They discussed how they began their careers in cybersecurity and gave advice for women entering the field.
The panelists indicated that there were very few women leaders and professionals in cybersecurity when they entered the field. As part of the discussion the legends reflected on the challenges they faced breaking into a male-dominated industry.
“I was not always respected by my male colleagues,” explained Titus. “When I walked into a room, I needed to remind people that I was a subject matter expert in my field, that I knew my work. I would validate and justify myself, and the feedback I would get from other people in the room was that I was extremely intimidating. I would say I’m extremely passionate.”
Allison entered the United States Military Academy at West Point as part of the first class to include women, when less than three percent of the population in the military were women. Allison decided it was her responsibility to be a role model for future generations of women that would follow in her footsteps.
“I had to know where my true north was and what I was doing,” she said. “I learned that I was very competent, that I could lead people and understand things.”
Titus discussed how important it is to “be disruptive in your thinking” and to challenge the status quo. The current generation of students coming out of college, she said, must have the disruptive thinking skills and the drive to become a new breed of leaders who will power the future.
Syria McCullough ’19, ’22 M.S, president of the University of New Haven’s Women in Cybersecurity chapter (WiCyS), asked the legends how their companies approach recruiting and retaining women in cybersecurity.
“We’re always looking for inquisitive talent, talent that won’t take no for an answer and will keep pushing the envelope and asking good questions,” said Allison. “What makes a candidate stand out in the field of cybersecurity is not only talent, but drive, flexibility, and the blending of many skills and disciplines to connect with different aspects of the industry.”
“What we’re always looking for is qualified talent with the right attitude and aptitude,” added McCarthy. “We can teach you a lot of different things if you have the right attitude, aptitude, and a willingness to learn.”
Watch the discussion on
Sarah Kispert '22 is a forensic science major at the University of New Haven and a cybersecurity marketing intern. She is the daughter of Karl Kispert, host of the Cyber Legends Series.